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?

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.

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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…

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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:

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Border Patrol Gave This Woman Zero Privacy As She Waited In An Emergency Room

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Border Patrol Gave This Woman Zero Privacy As She Waited In An Emergency Room

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The U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency has sparked outrage after Border Patrol agents were spotted waiting outside a patient’s room in the emergency unit of a Florida hospital before taking the patient into custody.

Video and images posted to social media on Sunday appeared to show at least one Border Patrol agent waiting outside a room at the Aventura Hospital and Medical Center in Aventura, Florida, with later footage appearing to show officers escorting the patient, a woman, into the back of a Border Patrol vehicle.

The ordeal started as the family was headed home after a day at the beach.

During a traffic stop, Border Patrol agents detained an undocumented woman who was on her way home from a family outing at Haulover Beach. It wasn’t long after the Border Patrol car pulled her over that she entered into a panic attack, vomiting and then eventually fainting. The officers took her to a Miami-area hospital, where she was treated by emergency-room doctors.

On the side of a road in Miami Beach, the federal agents had repeatedly told her, “We just need you to come with us.” Her kids, both teenagers, were crying, begging the agents not to take away their mother. But that appears like it’s exactly what happened. A family’s day at the beach ending with life long trauma for two teenagers who didn’t want to lose their mother and a woman fearful for her future.

Once she arrived to the emergency room, Border Patrol agents refused to leave the woman alone.

In fact, they wouldn’t leave her at all for nearly five hours. Officers waited either inside her actual room, affording her zero privacy, or they were waiting for her outside an open door. Agents refused to budge even as doctors and nurses came to ask her questions and give her medication.

When the woman was discharged shortly thereafter, a uniformed Border Patrol agent escorted her to a patrol vehicle and drove away. Immigrant-rights activists, who captured the incident on video, say the woman’s detention showed callous disregard for a person undergoing medical treatment.

Migrant rights activists were quick to condemn the agency’s actions and some even caught the drama on film.

Thomas Kennedy, who filmed a series of videos documenting the incident, told The Washington Post that the incident raises questions about the line – or lack thereof – between immigration enforcement and emergency medical care. He declined to name the woman out of concern for her safety.

“A hospital should be a place where a patient is protected from interrogation,” Kennedy, the political director at the Florida Immigrant Coalition, said in an interview. “You shouldn’t have a Border Patrol agent right there with you while you’re getting treatment.”

“It’s truly embarrassing as a country that this is a place where we are — that this is how business is being conducted, when we have a woman with children in the midst of a medical emergency being detained,” says Alexandra Audate, a lawyer and rapid-response volunteer with the Florida Immigrant Coalition (FLIC), who was present at the hospital.

Sadly, this is hardly the first time Border Patrol has harassed people in hospitals.

High-profile incidents in recent years have drawn attention to Border Patrol’s role in hospitals along the U.S.-Mexico border, where agents have allegedly handcuffed asylum seekers to their beds or rushed migrants to the emergency room after they’ve gotten sick in detention.

Less has been documented about Border Patrol’s place in hospitals elsewhere in the 100-mile “border zone,” where the agency can operate with a heightened kind of authority. That area, which encompasses a majority of the U.S. population, includes any point in the country that’s within 100 miles of a coastline, Canada or Mexico – including the entirety of states like Florida, Michigan and Massachusetts.

In the border zone, agents can stop, question, and detain anyone they suspect of having committed immigration violations – as they seem to have done on Sunday.

Senior Border Patrol Officer Gets To Retire After Allegedly Kidnapping And Sexually Assaulting Another Agent

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Senior Border Patrol Officer Gets To Retire After Allegedly Kidnapping And Sexually Assaulting Another Agent

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On July 10, former senior Border Patrol agent Gus Zamora, 51, was arrested in Tuscon for sexually assaulting a junior agent. Zamora’s wife is Gloria Chavez, one of the agency’s highest-ranked female officers. Three weeks after he was indicted by a Pima County grand jury, the agency took the only action it has thus far: it allowed him to retire from the agency three weeks after being arrested. Customs and Border Protection defended its actions by telling The New York Times, it “holds its employees accountable and expects the entire workforce to adhere to the agency’s standards of conduct.” Zamora attended a pretrial hearing at the Arizona Superior Court in Tucson. He pleaded not guilty.

The victim, identified as R.W. in court documents, told police that she looked up to Zamora as a mentor, given their ten-year age difference and his seniority. Over the years, R.W. had ignored some of his advances, asserting her desire to remain friends. The night of the assault, they met up for dinner and Zamora bought her so many tequila shots, video surveillance shows her falling to her knees as Zamora brought her back to his hotel room where he would later sexually assault her.

Before their dinner, Zamora texted her to ask if she “dressed up” for him, according to The New York Times.

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According to The New York Times, Zamora bought them five rounds of tequila shots, and at one point, she moved away from him after he placed his hand on her left thigh. The Daily Mail reports that Zamora told investigators that he offered R.W. a ride home, to which she declined, saying she didn’t want to be alone. Zamora alleges that she initiated the sex. However, hotel surveillance footage shows Zamora holding R.W. up. At one point, she fell to her knees, according to police documents obtained by The New York Times. 

Those police documents detail how R.W. said she blacked out, only waking up a few times to find herself on the bed. She told police she didn’t feel like she had the capacity to give consent. The rape kit results have not been made public. 

A few days later, R.W. reported the crime to the police, who then recorded her follow-up call to Zamora.

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According to The New York Times, the detective on the case recorded a phone call during which R.W. informed Zamora that the sex was non-consensual. The detective wrote, “he told her to not go there and that it wasn’t like that,” that sex “was never on his mind. They had too many shots,” The New York Times reports. Effectively, Zamora tried to call him out and he just deflected the blame onto both of them. 

When Zamora was eventually called in for an interview, a detective told Zamora that R.W. was in no state to offer consent, to which he “said that he knows, but he wasn’t in a state to consent either,” according to The New York Times

Women make up 5 percent of Border Patrol agents.

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The female agents who do make up the force have voiced their outrage at the agency’s inaction around sexual assault accusations. “There’s not a single woman in the Border Patrol who has either not been sexually assaulted, outright raped or at the very least sexually harassed,” former Border Patrol agent Jenn Budd told The New York Times. Budd’s since become an immigrant rights activist, and urges women to reconsider joining the Border Patrol.

Two days before Zamora allegedly assaulted R.W., Tucson police arrested Border Patrol agent Steven Charles Holmes, 33, for sexually assaulting three women over seven years. 

The agency is already under immense criticism for its high rate of arrest charges brought against Border Patrol agents when compared to other law enforcement agencies.

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In July 2019, Quartz reported that Border Patrol agents are arrested approximately five times as often as other law enforcement groups. With a budget of over $15 billion and over 60,000 employees, it’s the largest law enforcement agency in the United States. Many critics say the agency is not held to account for its unconstitutional means of coercing migrants to sign removal forms written in English, a language they often cannot understand. 

A Customs Border Patrol spokesperson told El Paso Times that its Office of Professional Responsibility “will review all the facts uncovered to ensure all allegations of misconduct … are thoroughly investigated for appropriate action by the agency.”

READ: US Border Patrol Sent This Man And His Child Back To Mexico And Hours Later They Were Thrown Into Trucks And Abducted