Southern border communities continue to call for transparency from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) after the Los Angeles Times published a story on a report critiquing the agency’s use of force policy. The story indicated that reporters have reviewed a copy of the Police Executive Review Forum’s (PERF) report, a document that has been withheld from the public.
The PERF Report – an independent review by the Police Executive Research Forum commissioned by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection — evidently says border agents deliberately provoked confrontations that led to avoidable violence.
“Today’s revealing information by the Los Angeles Times, while damning, is not shocking to southern border communities,” states Christian Ramírez, Director of the Southern Border Communities Coalition (SBCC). He continues, “We have long established that a pattern of excessive force by CBP is the norm. This is a wake up call to the Department of Homeland Security: the time to clean up CBP has come and begins with making the PERF report public.”
The Southern Border Communities Coalition (SBCC) and members of Congress requested the report in September when another investigation conducted by the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) revealed that the PERF report had indicated problems with the agency’s use of force. The OIG report was heavily redacted and members of Congress still have not seen the report.
According to the LA Times, the report mentioned cases where officers resorted to use of force when it was not needed, or where they simply could have gotten out of the way. For example, the article noted that, “in many vehicle shooting cases, the subject driver was attempting to flee from the agents who intentionally put themselves into the exit path of the vehicle, thereby exposing themselves to additional risk and creating justification for the use of deadly force.”
Situations involving moving vehicles is of particular concern in light of incidents like the killing of Valeria Munique Tachiquin, a US citizen and mother of five, who was shot nine times by a plain-clothed agent. Tachiquin was shot through the windshield as she attempted to move away from the agent in a residential neighborhood near San Diego. Witnesses to the case have mentioned that they saw the agent step in front of the car and fire his weapon.
“The fact that CBP has been reluctant to release the report is deeply troubling, especially since people continue to be killed,” states Christian Ramírez. “Transparency is expected of a professional federal agency. The public has a right to know how the CBP conducts its business, and clearly CBP is falling short of its responsibility,” he concluded.
Earlier this week the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), part of the Organization of American States, expressed deep concern over the events a week earlier that led to the death of Jesus Flores Cruz, 41, a Mexican migrant. He died from gunshot wounds inflicted by a U.S. Border Patrol agent, who was pursuing him on foot in a mountainous area of San Diego, near the international border between the United States and Mexico. This is the latest in a long series of similar events.
The Southern Border Communities Coalition (SBCC) brings together more than 60 organizations from San Diego, California, to Brownsville, Texas, to ensure that border enforcement policies and practices are accountable and fair, respect human dignity and human rights, and prevent the loss of life in the region.