Revitalize Not Militarize

Immigrants Rights Groups Weigh-in on Border Patrol Use-of-Force Stance

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SAN DIEGO – A decision by the chief of the Border Patrol has come under fire from a local immigrant rights group. Chief Mike Fisher has rejected a recommendation from the Police Executive Research Forum, a non-profit that advises law enforcement agencies. The group recommended that Border Patrol agents no longer be able to shoot at people who throw rocks at them, or who try to run them over. But Fisher said, “We shouldn’t have carve-outs in our policy and say, except for this, except for that. Just to say that you shouldn’t shoot at rock-throwers or vehicles for us, in our environment, was very problematic and could put Border Patrol agents in danger.”

“We’re disappointed that Chief Fisher would make these sort of statements,” said Christian Ramirez of Alliance San Diego. Among other things, the organization advocates for immigrants rights. Ramirez admits there are times when agents have no choice but to use deadly force. But he told San Diego 6 News that it’s used way too often. “Killing someone, shooting someone should be the ultimate last resort of any federal agency. That’s the case with local police, that’s the case with agencies across the country. It should also be the case for Border Patrol,” Ramirez said.

The review of Border Patrol policies began last year after 16 members of Congress raised concerns about the May 2010 killing of Anastasio Hernandez. Hernandez was an unarmed Mexican who died from taser wounds at the San Ysidro port of entry. That case is still under review.

Chief Fisher pointed out that agents were attacked with rocks 339 times in the 2011 fiscal year, more than any other type of assault. He said rocks can be lethal weapons. But Ramirez rejected that, citing how local police departments handle such situations. “They use tasers, they use beanbags, they use pepper spray. All of this equipment is available to the U.S. Border Patrol.” Ramirez told San Diego 6 his organization will now take their case to the Obama administration and press them to overrule Chief Fisher’s decision.

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