US Border Patrol has impunity for shooting stone pelters

José Antonio Elena Rodríguez  June 29 2017

Homeland Security issues the guidelines allowing US Border Patrol agents to use deadly force against stone throwers, including shooting those on the Mexican side of the border. There have been hundreds of stone pelting incidents, hundreds of abuse complaints to the Border Patrol & countless deaths, including of young people. There has been some litigation for wrongful death but most legal action is ruled invalid in a US courtroom because the victims are killed on Mexican soil. Currently the US Supreme Court is sitting on the case of a young boy shot by an agent in 2010 to decide if his family can file suit in a US court. In the unlikely case the judges will rule in the family’s favor, this would make it easier for others to also file wrongful death suits.

This is 16-year-old José Antonio Elena Rodríguez who in 2012 was shot ten times in the back in Nogales, Sonora by a Border Patrol agent in Nogales, Arizona. The agent said José Antonio was in a group of stone pelters endangering the agent but his family said he was walking home from a basketball game with friends. Getting shot in the back ten times more than substantiates a claim of innocence if not an altogether rabid agent unfit for duty.

The US Department of Justice did allow the family of José Antonio to file suit against the agent in this incident but most legal action is debarred solely on jurisdictional grounds. Just in the six-year period between 2010 & 2016, forty Mexican citizens were fatally shot by US Border Patrol agents from the US side of the border. That’s a whole lot of impunity for a very serious crime according to law enforcement experts & human rights groups.

Why the Mexican government hasn’t screamed bloody murder about this violation of their citizens’ rights indicts its collaboration with the US over border & jurisdictional issues. If the US courts will not allow agents to be prosecuted in the US, what’s to stop Mexico from taking action against them in a Mexican court? Why isn’t it protecting its citizens?

Some of the stone pelters were look outs trying to protect immigrants crossing the border; some were crossing the fence to visit their girlfriends or family (it wasn’t explained how they could be scaling a 50-foot wall & throwing stones at the same time); some were just in the vicinity of stone pelters; others were just doing what boys do in rebelling against unjust authority. Whatever they were doing, the use of deadly force against stone pelters is a crime. With Trump in office, that is not going to get better.
Immigration is a human right. Open the damn borders.

(Photo is José Antonio Elena Rodríguez)