Things That Matter

Corruption Among Border Patrol Agents Highlighted In This Tense Documentary

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The drug trade is big business in Mexico, and as a result, many individuals are attracted to the prospect of making big money by making deals with the cartels. In the U.S., it is not uncommon for cartels to pay off border patrol agents, so they can have access to valuable intel or to get a free pass at the border. And while border patrol agents can make some extra cash by turning a blind eye to cartel dealings, they’re not above retaliation, or worse, if something goes wrong. As this short documentary from The Atlantic shows, the relationship between the cartels and border patrol agents can tear apart communities, as well as families. The damage caused by this corruption is likely to get worse.

As demand for border patrol agents increases, the level of corruption is expected to increase as well.

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Border Patrol Agent Joel Luna and his brother, Eduardo Luna, a sicario (assassin) for the “Gulf Cartel,” were arrested in connection with the murder of Francisco “Frankie” Palacios Paz, whose body was found floating in the waters of South Padre Island, Texas. The Atlantic reports that only around one percent of agents are likely compromised by cartels, the way Joel Luna was, but that one percent can cause billions of dollars in damage.

In January, President Trump signed an executive order asking for an additional 5,500 agents, and experts are concerned that this demand could lead to a relaxation in the hiring process, allowing less desirable, and potentially easier to bribe, people to fill those positions. The damage caused by agent Joel Luna could pale in comparison to what might come next.

Be sure to check out The Atlantic’s full piece, covering this and so much more, on just how much damage is caused by this kind of corruption.

[H/T] Remezcla: This Explosive Short Doc Exposes How Trump’s Expansion of Border Patrol Could Be Disastrous

READ: Thousands Of Non-Criminal Immigrants Have Been Arrested By ICE, Data Reveals

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A Federal Judge Just Blocked The Trump Administration’s Attempt To Block Asylum Seekers From Entering The US

Things That Matter

A Federal Judge Just Blocked The Trump Administration’s Attempt To Block Asylum Seekers From Entering The US

U.S. Customs and Border Protection / Flickr

A California federal judge has restored a nationwide injunction on Monday, effectively blocking the Trump administration from denying asylum to migrants who have not first applied for refuge in a “third country” they’ve traveled through. This is just the latest twist in an ongoing legal battle that started back in July when both the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice announced the measure. The ban would have basically ended asylum for individuals whose only option is to travel upward through Mexico and other Latin American countries.

San Francisco-based U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar had previously issued a nationwide injunction blocking the rule. The ruling was then upheld last month by the Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals who narrowed the ban only border states within its jurisdiction, California and Arizona. The question was then sent back to Tigar. On Monday, he ruled it should apply across the entire U.S. border, pending a trial on the legality of the Trump administration ban. 

“The question now before the court is whether those harms can be addressed by any relief short of a nationwide injunction. The answer is that they cannot,” Tigar in his ruling. The injunction now in effect is deeply flawed and should be stayed pending appeal and pending any further proceedings in this Court. 

The ban is a major part of President Trump’s anti-immigration policy and a key issue of his reelection campaign.  

Credit: @haleaziz / Twitter

The reinstatement of the injunction is another blow to the Trump administration that has made multiple attempts to lower the number of asylum seekers at the southern border. Mexico deployed more than 5,000 troops to their southern border back in June after President Trump threatened to place tariffs on Mexican imports if the country didn’t help deter the number of Central American migrants passing through.

To this point, the deployment of troops seems to have had some effect on the flow of immigration as  U.S. Customs and Border Patrol announced last week that the number of border apprehensions dropped by more than 56 percent since peaking back in May at 144,255.

President Trump told reporters on Monday that he didn’t agree with the judges ruling. “I think it’s very unfair that he does that,” Trump told reporters. “I don’t think it should be allowed.”

“Immigration and border security policy cannot be run by any single district court judge who decides to issue a nationwide injunction,” the White House said in a statement. “This ruling is a gift to human smugglers and traffickers and undermines the rule of law. We previously asked the Supreme Court to set aside the district court’s injunction in its entirety, our request remains pending with the Court, and we look forward to it acting on our request.”

Many immigration and legal unions are celebrating the ruling who see the judges decision as a huge win for asylum seekers.  

Credit: @ACLU / Twitter

When the rule was announced back in July it quickly drew legal challenges from several immigrant-rights groups which accused the Trump administration of imposing a virtual asylum ban. They also saw the rule as setting a dangerous precedent and in return hurting the safety and security of migrants seeking safety in the U.S.

“The court recognized there is grave danger facing asylum-seekers along the entire stretch of the southern border.” Lee Gelernt, an American Civil Liberties Union attorney who argued the case, said in a statement.  

Acting Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Mark Morgan didn’t agree with the ruling as he told reporters that he was “frustrated” and described it as a result of “unprecedented judicial activism.” “It’s very very frustrating but we’re going to keep going. We’ll continue to work within the current legal framework address this,” Morgan said at the White House on Monday morning.

Melissa Crow, an attorney with the Southern Poverty Law Center, said in a statement that while Tigar’s ruling is a step in the right direction there still remain many hurdles for asylum seekers. 

“This ruling levels the playing field for all the vulnerable individuals and families seeking refuge in the United States. With this decision, regardless of where they cross the border, these people should be able to seek asylum. Sadly, while this ruling removes a major hurdle, far too many obstacles remain, as this administration’s war on asylum-seekers appears to know no bounds.”

READ: Trump Has Made It More Difficult For Cubans To Seek Asylum So Many Are Being Forced To Settle In Mexico

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

Things That Matter

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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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.