US Border Patrol accused of illegal cross-border shooting

On Monday, May 6, a report titled “Over The Line” by investigative journalist John Carlos Frey was featured on the Washington Post. The report deals with the cases of United States border agents shooting into Mexico, killing and wounding innocent citizens.

According to Democracy Now!, “A joint investigation by the Washington Monthly and the Investigative Fund at The Nation Institute has found over the past five years U.S. border agents have shot across the border at least 10 times, killing a total of six Mexicans on Mexican soil.”

Amy Goodman and Aaron Maté of Democracy Now! interviewed Frey to discuss his article and what was discovered over the course of the investigation. In the interview, Frey discusses one victim in particular, José Antonio Rodríguez, who was sixteen years old last year when he was shot and killed by border agents in Nogales, Mexico as he was walking to buy a hotdog.

This is not the first time border agents have fired their weapons into Mexico, and according to Frey, “they’ve actually killed six people. They’ve actually shot 10 times into Mexico, wounding a couple of others, and in some cases we don’t even know what happened. So, we’re talking about Mexico, our neighbor, our friend to the south, basically receiving arms, bullets from federal agents.”

Frey explained that he had to go to Mexico to discover what the actually policy is regarding U.S. Border Patrol firing into Mexico. It was there that he discovered that there is an agreement set up between the United States and Mexico making it so that the U.S. agents are not permitted to fire weapons into Mexico.

This should not be difficult to believe, after all, Mexico is a sovereign country, so the United States should have no right to exercise any jurisdiction in the country. The individuals who have been either killed or wounded were not breaking any laws, and even if they were breaking Mexican laws, the U.S. agents are supposed to contact the local officials.

Frey explained his view on these occurrences, “What’s happening, I believe, is that the agents are poorly trained. The agents shoot first, ask questions later. We also have a policy with the U.S. federal agents that they can fire their weapons if people throw rocks. So if you throw a rock across the border, you can open fire and kill somebody.”

These border patrol agents have taken advantage of their power and it is unacceptable that it has come to the point that innocent Mexican citizens are being killed for no reason. The families of the victims have no legal recourse since they cannot sue in a United States court.

The investigations about the shootings are quickly closed and no information is made public, effectually allowing the agents to get away with murder. When Frey was asked about any response on the part of U.S. authorities he stated, “You’re suspecting that there is a response… There are no responses. These cases are locked down. I don’t know the names of the agents. I don’t know why this has happened.”

If it were not for Frey’s investigative report, these cases would probably go on being unknown by the general populous. This trend of United States officials killing innocent people without consequence cannot continue. As Frey pointed out, if this was a case of Mexican officials killing United States citizens, “This would be an international incident, and I don’t think that the United States would stand for it.”

Frey’s exposé demonstrates not only the horrible injustices that have been allowed to take place, but also how broken the U.S. Border Patrol system is. There is obviously a problem with the way these poorly trained individuals guarding the border view their responsibilities, and it will only increase if it continues to be ignored.