More than 340,000 migrants crossed the border from Mexico to the United States last year. While there was a decline since the previous year, the proportion of children crossing the border has grown. Yet, enforcement and border policies in the United States have focused increasingly on the criminalization of migration rather than on protection.
Since 2010 Border Patrol agents have killed at least seven members of border communities—half of them minors—and several others have been seriously injured. Border Patrol has not taken any action against the agents involved. Neither has there been a public investigation, which would help families understand why their loved ones were killed or injured.
The call for the U.S. Government to implement immigration reform and closely examine the impact of U.S. border security policies on the safety of migrants crossing into the country is growing. U.S. Customs and Border Protection currently operates under very little transparency or oversight. They have few public policies or procedures in place to provide guidance to officers on how to protect vulnerable migrants, including how to address incidents of sexual assault, family separation or allegations of abuse. Numerous migrants have reported abusive treatment by border patrol agents, inadequate conditions at border patrol stations and short-term facilities and the failure of officials to identify and respond to accounts of sexual assault, trauma and fear of persecution.
On April 20, 2012, PBS’s Need to Know aired a half-hour segment that exposed the excessive use of deadly force that has become routine for the Border Patrol. Watch the show here. On July 27, the program aired a follow-up segment that featured a former Border Patrol officer, victims of sexual assault and abuse and local aid workers speaking about the agency's lack of accountability and oversight. Watch that sement here.
You can help bring justice home for Southern Border communities by signing and sharing a petition asking President Obama to move forward with an open and thorough investigation of all of the killings that have occurred since 2010.
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The Women’s Refugee Commission is working with the government and other partners on both sides of the border to address critical human and civil rights issues and due process for vulnerable migrants at the border. Our Detention and Asylum Program is collaborating with the UN agency for refugees and other organizations to assess current practices, highlight best practices and make recommendations for policy changes and training. We are one of the few organizations working to address the conditions of confinement or detention in short term facilities run by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Civil society does not have access to these facilities and governmental self-monitoring is inconsistent.