Things That Matter

Their Son Was Killed On Mexican Soil By A Border Patrol Agent And They Want Justice

Associated Press / Univision / SBCC Media / YouTube

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear arguments on the case of Sergio Adrian Hernández Guereca. In 2010, the 15-year-old Mexican national was killed by Border Patrol agent Jesus Mesa Jr. The Mexican teen was shot in the head by Mesa Jr. while the former was standing on Mexican soil. The SCOTUS case could have serious implications on whether foreign nationals can sue U.S. officials for excessive force.

This was the scene at the U.S.-Mexico border between El Paso, Texas, and Ciudad Juárez, México, in 2010.

Univision / CNN / grosscrime2 / YouTube
CREDIT: Univision / CNN / grosscrime2 / YouTube

On June 7, 2010, Sergio Adrian Hernández Guereca was with four other Mexican teens on the border. According to The New York Times, the four boys started to take turns daring each other to run to the fence on the U.S. side and touch it. That was when Border Patrol agent Jesus Mesa Jr. decided to engage with the teens.

The sudden death of their 15-year-old son devastated the family.

Associated Press / Univision / SBCC Media / YouTube
CREDIT: Associated Press / Univision / SBCC Media / YouTube

Sergio’s mother spoke about how she was given information to keep her calm, but she knew better. Rather than just believing what authorities told her about her son, Maria made her way down to the Rio Grande and saw her son lying there dead.

Sergio’s death sparked outrage throughout Mexico because the teen was shot and killed by a U.S. Border Patrol agents while standing on Mexican soil.

Associated Press / Univision / SBCC Media / YouTube
CREDIT: Associated Press / Univision / SBCC Media / YouTube

“If the migrant is still on the Mexico side of the border, there doesn’t seem to be any reason for Border Patrol to engage with that migrant,” Tania Chozet, a policy advocate for the ACLU of New Mexico told SBCC Media. She continued, “It is Border Patrol’s policy to use lethal force in response to the throwing of a rock.”

Sergio’s family has said that they do not want money, they simply want justice. However, as a foreign national, their rights against U.S. officials are pretty limited.

Associated Press / Univision / SBCC Media / YouTube
CREDIT: Associated Press / Univision / SBCC Media / YouTube

“If ever a case could be said to present an official abuse of power so arbitrary as to shock the conscience, the Appellants have alleged it here,” the Fifth Circuit Appellant Court stated in their ruling, according to AZ Central. The court went further and said that the border between the U.S. and Mexico is subject to the Fifth Amendment, meaning Sergio’s family has the right to sue Mesa Jr. As the court states, the laws governing the U.S.-Mexico border are the same as the laws governing Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The story of Sergio’s death is becoming a more frequent tale, with other teenagers being killed in Mexico by bullets flying from Border Patrol guns in the U.S.

Associated Press / Univision / SBCC Media / YouTube
CREDIT: Associated Press / Univision / SBCC Media / YouTube

You can read the full story here.


READ: A Judge Just Ordered The Release Of Images From An Arizona Immigration Detention Center

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The Border Patrol Has Instilled Fear In Much Of The Latino Community So Why Are So Many Latinos A Part Of The Group?

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The Border Patrol Has Instilled Fear In Much Of The Latino Community So Why Are So Many Latinos A Part Of The Group?

DHS / Instagram

Recent reports establish that about 51 percent of Border Patrol personnel is of Latino heritage, which has sparked a debate that encompasses issues such as cultural representation, ethnic self-hate and worse. However, whatever side people might be on (understanding or blaming the Latino agents), one thing is certain: things are a bit more complicated than a simple good guys versus bad guys narrative. There are multiple social, historical and financial matters that come into the equation. So let’s explore this issue a bit more in-depth. 

You might have heard of the private Facebook groups in which Border Patrol mocked migrants.

Credit: @votolatino / Twitter

As reported by Scroll.in: “Members of a secret Facebook group for current and former Border Patrol agents joked about the deaths of migrants, discussed throwing burritos at Latino members of Congress visiting a detention facility in Texas on Monday and posted a vulgar illustration depicting Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez engaged in oral sex with a detained migrant, according to screenshots of their postings.” Well, it turns out that many of them, just like the so-called ICE bae, were of Latino origin. This might have surprised some, but there are reasons behind this. 

Donald Trump made headlines by showcasing a Latino CBP agent and his “perfect English,” which brought the existence of Latino agents into mainstream political discussion. This event revealed a deeper cultural truth…

Credit: @robforusa / Twitter

Oh, POTUS, he can’t help himself, can he? 

What Trump revealed: some gringos see “Latinos” as a homogeneous group of people. Basically, this is how non-Latinos tend to see Latinos:

Credit: Giphy

Hollywood and media representations have long grouped Latinos into a single siesta-loving, sexy, drinking bunch. This is called racial profiling and it is alive and well.

In fact, Latinos are a very diverse group.

Credit: News Taco

Latinos have long been part of the U.S. social structure. Latinos have been in what is now the U.S. for centuries. And Latinos come to the U.S. for many reasons, and sometimes these reasons are political. Many Cuban exiles, for example, escaped the Castro regime and established themselves in Florida. Latinos tend to vote Republican because that is the party that generally has a hard line against the Cuban government. In the case of Mexicans, a majority flees violence and poverty in their country by crossing the border as undocumented migrants. But many others are wealthy and establish in cities like San Antonio by investing in new businesses. Grouping a growing and diverse section of the United States population under the umbrella term “Latino” is mistake, and perhaps the reason why Democrats are generally surprised when “Latinos” vote for candidates such as Donald Trump (sadly, he represents the agenda and views of many). In fact, the Pew Research Center discovered that 21% of Millennial Latino voters described their political views as conservative, 38% as moderate, and 37% as liberal.

Some used the fact that Latinos make up a considerable fraction of Border Patrol law enforcement to diminish the abuses committed at the border and at detention facilities.

Credit: @nthonylanger / Twitter

This, of course, leads to simplistic interpretations of the border crisis, such as Anthony’s here.

And government officials se lavan las manos stating that there can be no abuse if Latinos are enforcing immigration laws.

Credit: @cnsnews / Twitter

But, again, things are much more complicated than this. Does he even know that the percentage of Border Patrol agents that are Latino is really a reflection of the demographic composition of border towns? If you have a large Latino population in any locality, it is only logical that your workforce will have a strong component from that particular ethnic group. 

Some Latinos on Twitter are enraged and take a black and white perspective that also lacks nuance.

Credit: @GuillermoX15 / Twitter

We understand the anger, but this kind of simplistic interpretation of reality is what got us in the political and discursive mess we are into right now.

Some voices on Twitter are more conciliatory and this is a political discussion this country needs.

Credit: @oakleyw10 / Twitter

Political extremism is born out of ignorance and half-truths. We like the position taken by this Twitter user, who questions some basic assumptions about Border Patrol agents of Latino origin: they are not all Republican supporters and we cannot just do what far-right dudes and just isolate these agents. There are many more factors we have to consider: they do not work in Border Patrol because they hate their own.  

But as a recent article on Patheos pointed out: a job is a job, and Border Patrol officials need the money.

Credit: @OliverDonuts / Twitter

This post on Patheos echoed an op-ed written by scholar David Cortez on USA Today. Cortez argues that one of the reasons Latinos work for immigration enforcement is plain old money: “Although Hispanics make up 39% of the Texas population, they make up 51% of the population living in poverty… Thus, the decision to apply for and accept a Customs and Border Protection job that offers a starting salary of nearly $56,000 a year and generous benefits is not a complicated one”. Cortez was interviewed by Lulu Garcia-Navarro or NPR, and he explained further: “Well – so these agents actually do, from my experience, from my research, find themselves connected with the people that they encounter. But for many of them, this job is not necessarily about stopping immigration. This isn’t about their dedication to immigration law or their dedication to keeping migrants from crossing the border illicitly or anything like that. This is about economic self-interest. This is about survival”. 

Latino Border Patrol agents face ethical questions, but they don’t want to jeopardize their jobs or their family’s financial stability.

Credit: USA Today

In this op-ed by Cortez, interviewees said: 

“One agent I interviewed, for instance, acknowledged the connection between himself and the migrants he encounters as fellow Latinos, and explained that he felt bad, at times, working in immigration, but that he had to provide for his family. Switching to Spanish for emphasis, he stressed that this was the job he had chosen, so he had to do it.

Another agent offered a similar refrain. While he admitted to an inherent contradiction between who he was as a Latino and what he did as an immigration agent, he was unambiguous about what mattered most. Despite any misgivings he might have about the job, he said he would never do anything to put it in jeopardy because his family came first.”

Here we can see how a core Latino value, putting family first, above anything else, comes face-to-face with the contradictions of being a Latino Border Patrol agent. As these interviews point out, the decision is not that simple.

Fox News Reported On CBP Using Tear Gas On “Combative” Migrants This Weekend But Officials Had No Information On This Incident

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Fox News Reported On CBP Using Tear Gas On “Combative” Migrants This Weekend But Officials Had No Information On This Incident

A Fox News headline published on Saturday, July 20th, read “Border agents use tear gas to stop nearly 50 undocumented migrants who stormed Rio Grande bridge.” But the last time a report was published about tear gas used on migrants at the border was January 3, 2019, and it made international news. Here’s Fox’s story:

According to Fox, 47 migrants “rushed” the Pharr International Bridge, and assaulted officers.

Fox and Friends

“A CBP official told Fox News the group attempted to rush across the bridge in three waves,” the article states. FOX quotes the alleged CBP official, “Ignoring commands to stop, the group suddenly rushed the temporary barricades, bent metal poles and disabled the concertina wire affixed to the barrier.”

Fox reports the group strategically rushed the bridge in three waves around 4 a.m. Allegedly, the bridge’s reopening, typically at 6 a.m., was delayed by two hours because CBP had to construct temporary barriers in the middle of the night.

Fox says the violence and destruction were so bad, Pharr Police were called to the scene.

@PharrTx / Twitter

This “official” tells Fox that “CBP officers, Border Patrol agents, Pharr police and members of the Texas Department of Public Safety were called upon to prevent the group’s entry.”

CBP and Pharr police have not mentioned this at all, though, by the time the bridge reopened, the Twitter account linked to Pharr PD’s website shared about their morning golf course clean up.

Fox links alleged migrants to the drug cartel.

Fox and Friends

In a Fox and Friends news clip, the hosts attempt to draw a connection between the migrants and the drug cartel, saying, “The cartel controls that area, so if those people are trying to [cross there], they’re not doing it without at least the knowledge of the cartel which means that something is going on.”

They also want to make the point that it’s incidents like these that Democrats use to “vilify” Border Patrol but what else were they supposed to do?

We called Pharr International Bridge’s offices and they were “not aware” of use of force or of the bridge’s closing.

Fox and Friends

The person who answered said that we should call back tomorrow to speak with his manager for an official statement. We asked if he was aware of Border Patrol using tear gas on migrants, resulting in the bridge temporarily closing, and he said, “I’m not aware of anything like that.”

U.S. Customs and Border Protection had no published statement regarding use of force by its agents by the time of this publication.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection

Typically, there would at least be traffic reports of the bridge closure, as it would affect an innumerable amount of businesses who rely on the bridge for commerce. At least one outlet, CBS Valley Central references “a [media] release from Customs and Border Protection” that seemingly does not exist.

The single image used by Fox was published days earlier by other outlets.

@frank69oo7 / Twitter

There was no footage of the alleged July 20th incident and a reverse image search found that the single image used by Fox was published on other outlets beginning as early as July 17, 2019.

The “official” specifically told Fox that the alleged victims of tear gas were “several males in the group [who] disregarded commands to stop and physically pushed through the barriers.” Sixteen individuals were either federally charged or pending charges for “interference.”

The misinformation has since spread to the likes of New York Post, The Blaze, and more, all referencing Fox News.

Fox News / New York Post

Biz Pac Review even used this headline, “Horde of violent migrants storm Texas bridge punching, kicking and rushing border patrol officers.” More and more alt-right outlets are picking up the piece as it’s gone viral for the conservative online community.

Fox’s article has inspired calls for more violence against migrants.

@frank69oo7 / Twitter

It’s nearly impossible to find a public comment on Fox News’ initial reporting of the tear gas attack without finding threats of more violence. This user enthusiastically, in all caps, says, “GOOD, STOP THEM. MAY HAVE TO USE BASE BALL BATS, BUT STOP THEM.”

Tear gas is so abrasive that, in 1993, the U.S. outlawed the use of tear gas in war.

@RetiredNYCPD / Twitter

It’s something that nations across the world have definitely outlawed as a weapon they wouldn’t inflict on their own worst enemies. The inhalation of tear gas causes victims’ eyes to swell, throats to tighten, uncontrollable gagging and often vomiting for a full hour before the agent leaves the system.

Tear gas is legal for U.S. federal and local law enforcement to use as a method of riot control.

Still, some think tear gas isn’t enough.

@onurb1952 / Twitter

Twitter user @RogerMcEntyre shared Fox’s news report with the caption, “Finally! Machine guns with rubber bullets work too.”

Extreme right conservatives are using the gap in reporting from credible outlets as fuel for the fire.

@AndrewPollackFL / Twitter

Andrew Pollack’s tweet has been liked and retweeted over 11,000 times in less than 24 hours.

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