TX News Service – Lawsuit Against Border Patrol Claims Excessive Force, False Arrest

Published October 23, 2013
John Michaelson, Public News Service – TX
Brownsville, TX

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency is facing a new lawsuit over an alleged false arrest and excessive use of force against a U.S. citizen.

The incident happened last November as a pregnant woman with disabilities was confronted by an agent outside her workplace in Brownsville. Adriana Piñon, senior staff attorney with the ACLU of Texas, said the woman hadn’t broken any laws and was not interfering.

“And yet, when she asked a few questions of the agent, he reacted violently,” she said, “He threw her to the ground with so much force that her jeans tore and she suffered physical injuries. He put his weight on her and handcuffed her so tightly that the fire department had to be called to get the cuffs off.”

The woman suffered a miscarriage the next day from injuries as a result of the incident, according to her doctor.

Customs and Border Patrol does not comment specifically on pending litigation, but said it does not tolerate misconduct within its ranks and fully cooperates with all investigations.

Piñon said these types of cases are all too common, adding that to reverse that trend, the Border Patrol needs to improve training, transparency and accountability.

“It’s so important that agents understand what the legal limits of the use of force are,” she said, “because incidents such as the one in our complaint deteriorate trust in our community, and our border communities suffer as a result.”

An audit of Border Patrol training conducted by the Inspector General last year found that many agents and officers do not understand the extent to which they may or may not use force.

The complaint is online at aclutx.org. The Inspector General’s report on Border Patrol use of force is at aclu.org.

TX News Service: Poll – Texans Want Immigration Reform, Path to Citizenship

Published June 17, 2013
John Michaelson, Public News Service – TX
Austin, TX

Most Texans believe the country’s immigration reform system needs to be fixed, and a new poll also has found majority support for the U.S. Senate bill crafted by the bipartisan “Gang of Eight.”

Marisa Bono with the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) said the plan is a step in the right direction.

“The poll results reflect what we at MALDEF have known all along: Most Texans and most Americans favor immigration reform that focuses not only on enforcement, but also includes pathways for legalization and work authorization for those already here,” Bono said.

In the poll, 67 percent of Texas respondents said they supported the “Gang of Eight” proposal being debated in the Senate, and an even greater percentage supported a path to citizenship.

Letting undocumented workers seek legal status through a rigorous path will have a genuine impact on the Texas economy, Bono added.

“For those immigrants who do not have criminal records, who do not pose threats to our communities or to our society – and who, in fact, contribute economically to our community in positive ways – it makes sense to embrace them, not to turn them away,” she said.

In 2011, the Pew Hispanic Center estimated that more than 1.5 million immigrants living in Texas are not in the U.S. legally and could benefit from the reform legislation.

The full poll results are available at americasvoiceonline.org.

TX News Service: Immigration Reform – A Path to Citizenship and Secure Borders

Published January 29, 2013
John Michaelson, Public News Service – TX
El Paso, TX

A plan for immigration reform has been announced by a bipartisan group of U.S. senators, and a mix of optimism and caution is greeting the proposal.

It includes a path to citizenship for people already in the country, says Fernando Garcia, executive director of the Border Network for Human Rights.

“They are talking about bringing people who are undocumented out of the shadows and give them some kind of path to citizenship, so I think the recognition that there should be a solution for the people already in the United States, and they should be integrated with full citizenship, is quite important.”

The plan rolled out Monday also includes ramped-up border security, a reformed legal immigration system and an employment verification system.

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