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Latina Lista: News from the Latinx perspective > Palabra Final > Immigration > Arizona border agents accused of extreme roughness and tearing up birth certificates of Mexican-American boys

Arizona border agents accused of extreme roughness and tearing up birth certificates of Mexican-American boys

LatinaLista — While everyone agrees that the job of a border patrol agent along the U.S.-Mexico border is a thankless, dangerous job, there are a few agents who obviously feel that the no-man’s land where they’re stationed gives them license to abuse their positions.
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Thanks to some great detective work by Jacqueline Stevens, University of California associate law professor and blogger/publisher of States Without Nations , comes the revelation of a disturbing pattern of abuse by Arizona border patrol agents against young Mexican-American boys.
It seems that in several different cases (the ones we know about), two of which were written up in great detail by Stevens, that Mexican-American teenagers trying to cross back into the United States from Mexico (one went to go drink in Mexico, the other had been living there and was returning to live in the U.S.) were stopped and questioned by the border patrol.
When both boys, Mario and Ricardo, presented their birth certificates, the border patrol 1) Declared that they didn’t believe either boy and 2) in each instance, ripped up their birth certificates in front of them.
With no other way to prove their U.S. citizenship, the boys could do nothing to defend themselves when the border patrol agents declared them removed as Mexican citizens.


Lawyers for both boys pointed out in court that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) — the border patrol agents — didn’t follow proper legal procedure when the boys claimed they were American citizens.
Instead, the agents ridiculed and harassed both boys to make them say they were from Mexico.
When each boy finally did have their day(s) in court, unfortunately, the immigration judges presiding over each case were no better. As Stevens reports:

In May 2007, Mario decided to take his chances by crossing without inspection and was apprehended by the Nogales Border Patrol. He made a sworn statement that he’s a U.S. citizen and is taken into detention for deportation proceedings, where he can make his case before a judge. Mario, the attorney said, “denied he was a Mexican alien, but they whipped this thing out,” according to the attorney, and said, “You said you were a Mexican. Here’s the proof. You were removed as a Mexican.”
The Immigration Judge says the sworn statement of Mexican citizenship is sufficient to shift the burden onto Mario to prove he really is a U.S. citizen. Mario did that. His file includes Medicaid records of his birth and infant care, a copy of the birth certificate, and the Colorado hospital records (where he was born to an American mother and Mexican father), including the Apgar test (taken one minute and five minutes after birth). The attorney continued, “The judge says, ‘The records don’t show he was born at the hospital. The records only show he was treated at the hospital.” Oh, and Mario had obtained a childhood photo from his uncles in Tucson, from when they visited Mario in Mexico, in which Mario’s about 8 and holding THE SAME BIRTH CERTIFICATE in his file. (The family had the photo enlarged and it’s very clear.)

These cases are just the latest examples of an attitude that prevailed under a Chertoff-run Department of Homeland Security where deporting Mexican-Americans was considered “acceptable losses.” What these border patrol agents fail to recognize is that this is a new day and a new administration that emphasizes accountability and transparency.
That these agents deported U.S. citizens is grounds for legal action for violating their constitutional rights.
If anyone should doubt that some Arizona agents are abusing their power, then you haven’t heard what happened to a non-Mexican-American Arizona resident.
Tempe, Arizona pastor Steven Anderson had his own run-in with the state’s border agents last month. Unlike the boys who felt helpless in thinking that no one would believe them, Anderson was outraged at what happened to him.
He was so outraged that he made a YouTube video recounting the incident. And while Anderson asks incredulously at the end of the video how this could happen in America, those of us in the Latino community who have been reporting on abuses committed by border patrol agents and agents of the Department of Homeland Security for a couple of years now, can finally ask — Do you believe us now?

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Comment(10)

  • Avatar
    Peter Coyotl
    May 6, 2009 at 10:06 pm

    Pastors getting tazed by border patrol goons who read the “thoughts” of their drug sniffing dog and other border patrol goons violating the rights of American born Brown people is indicative of the craziness of far too many in Arizona.
    The racist site Storm Front has one of its members who has posted a pic of him calmly talking to Sheriff Joe during the anti-Joe march last week in Phoenix.
    Hate has somehow become mainstream when government employees hired to uphold the law break the law.

  • Avatar
    Jesus Chairez
    May 7, 2009 at 7:54 am

    This really makes me angry. We hear all the stories about how Mexican police, etc. are and this sort of crap happens in the USA. Awful.

  • Avatar
    cookie
    May 7, 2009 at 8:47 am

    I can see from the many things mentioned in the story how doubt was cast as to the legal status of these individuals. The authentic birth certificate eventually cleared all questions up.
    This is just another reason why Hispanic citizens should stand up for the rule of law and demand that their ethnic kind come here legally because the negative impact to Hispanic citizens is shown with this story. Ain’t gonna happen though, is it? What is the saying “you reap what you sow” or “if you lay down with dogs, you will catch fleas”? Just some analogies to think about.

  • Avatar
    Evelyn
    May 7, 2009 at 5:15 pm

    This is just another reason why Hispanic citizens should stand up for the rule of law and demand that their ethnic kind come here legally because the negative impact to Hispanic citizens is shown with this story.
    ~
    For many there is no legal way to come. That is why CIR needs to be passed, because the Gov. let them in and allowed them to stay and set down roots. It’s too late to throw them out. They must be treated equally to all the other immigrants who have come.
    Most Americans including Hispanic citizens stand up for all laws that are not broken, including the law that states all people should be treated equal.
    That would mean today’s immigrants should be treated equal to those who have come before them, and given a path to citizenship for many obvious reasons.
    It is only a few hate filled racists who want to demonize Hispanic immigrants especially Mexicans by using lies and spin to further their agenda of hate.

  • Avatar
    Karen
    May 7, 2009 at 9:25 pm

    I wish the President would take a leadership position on this issue. Border Patrol Agents have no right to detain and imprison American citizens. A Border Patrol Agent who tears up a valid US birth certificate and/or coerces somebody into signing a false statement should be in PRISON.
    All of those points of enry should be filmed and all conversation between the agents and people entering should be recorded.

  • Avatar
    cookie
    May 9, 2009 at 6:09 pm

    If there is no legal way for an immigrant to come…then they can’t come, period! We have quotas and other qualifications that have to be met. We cannot take in everyone just because they want to come here.
    That doesn’t give them the right to come in violation of our immigration laws anyway.
    Our government is made up of many crooked politicians who have ignored our laws for cheap labor for their cronies. We the American people shouldn’t have to pay the consequences for THEIR sins by absorbing millions of illegals into our country and legalizing them and I don’t care how long they have been here either. Deportation through attrition, securing our borders and internal enforecemet with the employers will work. Our government owes the American people that for their negligance for the past 30 years.
    No, illegal immigrants should not be treated the same as legal immigrants, past, present or future, nor are they equal in civil rights. This has nothing to do with hate or racism or about a certain ethnic group. This is about the laws of our country. ALL illegals need to be deported and I don’t care where they are from either.

  • Avatar
    MaryElizabeth
    May 11, 2009 at 6:53 pm

    It just seems like our law enforcement are way out of control. We need tougher laws on our law enforcement. Anderson Cooper had a special on CNN that showed that in some local town in Texas the police were actually stopping darker skinned drivers, interiogating them and stealing their personal belongings including cash. They were doing an investigation on them and finding that they were keeping the money. One officer had a check for 10 thousand dollars written to him. I just do not trust our law enforcement anymore for the most part. Tearing up US citizens documents or pulling drivers over on the road and stealing their cash and personal belongings. Our law enforcement system is no longer about protecting people.

  • Avatar
    MaryElizabeth
    May 12, 2009 at 5:47 pm

    Cookie, they only thing I agree with you on is that the cheap cronys need to be put in their place. They are the reason for…the magnet that brought us to the current immigration crisis we face today. I do believe in Comprehensive Immigration Reform because we need to get the 12 million that are here on the books and out of the shadows…and we need to secure those borders. (There is no reason why the borders should not be secured). If the cronys didnt have access to an underground workforce they would be forced to follow the labor laws and pay a fair legal wage. As we see it now they pay as low as 5 dollars an hour forceing immigrants to work 80 hours a week with no overtime…that is 400 dollars a week for that job. When forced to put there staff on the books they will no longer want to pay the overtime at a higher wage. This will create more jobs (40 hr a week jobs at around the same 400 dollar a week pay). Unions will form…and with the reform of the legal immigration system this will never happen again. The only reason why the mess happened in the first place was because rich cronys found ways to exploit people by closing the legal immigration system which caused a flood at the border. A reasonable legal immigration system in colaboration with tough border security and a legal workforce with Unions in America would fix the problem. 12 million are not deportable and the cronys know it. The longer they system is broken the longer they benefit.

  • Avatar
    Chris Diaz
    May 19, 2009 at 4:54 pm

    Anderson is a racist psycho. Don’t believe his phony Mr. Innocent routine.
    Here’s a link to a sermon about immigration on his church website. Save it to your computer. Fox News is already trying to use this little jerk to demonize Latinos. Please help me get the word out. Also, there are more sermons on his site, with a scary one about the president.
    http://www.faithfulwordbaptist.org/Immigration.html

  • Avatar
    ROBERT CHISHOLM
    August 31, 2009 at 9:43 pm

    I HAVE A STORY TO TELL ABOUT ICE PULLING MY WIFE OUT OF LINE, SHE’S A US CITIZEN FROM PHILIPPINES, SEARCING HER BELONGINGS AND PUTTING HER IN AN INTERROGATION ROOM. SHE WAS NOT INTERROGATED, HAD ONLY TWO NEW HANDBAGS WHICH SHE HAD PURCHASED IN NOGALES FROM A STORE. SHE HAS GONE TO NOGALES FOR THE PAST THREE MONDAYS, HER DAY OFF, TO HELP ME HAVE MY TEETH TAKEN CARE OF BY A MEXICAN DENTIST. HER NAME APPEARED ON A LIST, WHY WE DON’T KNOW. WHAT THE LIST WAS FOR, WE DON’T KNOW. AFTER A HALF HOUR SHE WAS RELEASED. SHE NEVER FOUND OUT WHY THEY WERE HOLDING HER AND SEARCHING HER BELONGINGS. HER CELL PHONE WAS TAKEN AWAY FROM HER BUT GIVEN BACK LATER WHEN RELEASED. WHAT IS THIS ALL ABOUT? SHE IS NOT MEXICAN, NOT THAT IT MATTERS, IS A US CITIZEN WITH A US PASSPORT, CAME HERE LEGALLY FROM THE PHILIPPINES TWELVE YEARS AGO THIS MONTH. I AM INCENSED THAT MY GOVERNMENT WOULD TREAT LEGAL PERSONS THIS WAY. MY NEXT STOP IS TO VISIT A LOCAL IMMIGRATION ATTORNEY.

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