Aug. 13, 2019 –  Statement by Border Network for Human Rights Executive Director Fernando Garcia:

“It is very disturbing only a week after a mass shooting targeting Mexicans and people of color in an El Paso Walmart, that Border Patrol launched pepper balls against Mexican families swimming in the Rio Grande.  The dehumanization of, and use of state violence against, Mexicans with impunity drove that horrific shooting, and it is appalling to see Border Patrol reinforce the shooter’s message with their actions, especially so soon afterward.  We condemn this violence.  Border Patrol must investigate and be accountable for its use of force.

This incident regresses on real progress that the El Paso Border Patrol Sector had made in reducing their use of force.  We know that tactics to deescalate encounters make life safer for migrants, Borderland residents, and agents.  To see this, a deeply concerning disproportionate use of force by Border Patrol against a family peacefully swimming in the Rio Grande, not seeking to enter the U.S., would seem to suggest that years of communities working with Border Patrol have been for naught.

Border Patrol must remember that the rights, dignity, and lives of all persons are important, and this excessive use of force does nothing to meet the needs of border communities or uphold the values and ideals of America.  Border communities are committed to not allowing this incident to happen with impunity—we will ensure there is real accountability and oversight stemming from this.  We hope that Border Patrol will agree to meaningful introspection, dialogue, and change in the aftermath of this incident.  In the coming days we will reach out to the Border Patrol Sector Chief to discuss this incident and ensure Border Patrol hears and addresses the needs and experiences of area residents.”

The Border Network for Human Rights, founded in 1998, is one of the leading human rights advocacy and immigration reform organizations in the U.S. BNHR has over 7,000 members in West Texas and Southern New Mexico.