Cover-up: Border agents created pretext to shoot Mexicans

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What's that saying again? Oh yeah: The cover-up is worse than the crime... or as in this case, at least as bad. The Los Angeles Times is reporting on border patrol agents who purposely got in the way of oncoming cars in order to justify using deadly force against Mexican drivers. And then U.S. Customs and Border Protection kept their violent little activities hush-hush... from Congress.

The law enforcement experts who wrote up a review of dozens of cases recommended that agents should be trained "to get out of the way… as opposed to intentionally assuming a position in the path of such vehicles." Ordinarily, law enforcement agencies make use-of-force policies public, but not in this case.

And to make matters worse, per Mexican authorities, U.S. border agents who kill Mexicans "are rarely disciplined and the results of investigations are not made pubic for years." According to the Times, the authors said that border agents would stand right there in the road so they could shoot drivers who were trying to avoid arrest. These drivers "posed no direct lethal threat to them or others." Welcome to the U.S.A.:

Border Patrol agents have deliberately stepped in the path of cars apparently to justify shooting at the drivers and have fired in frustration at people throwing rocks from the Mexican side of the border, according to an independent review of 67 cases that resulted in 19 deaths.

The report by law enforcement experts criticized the Border Patrol for "lack of diligence" in investigating U.S. agents who had fired their weapons. It also said it was unclear whether the agency "consistently and thoroughly reviews" use-of-deadly-force incidents.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection, which had commissioned the review, has tried to prevent the scathing 21-page report from coming to light.

House and Senate oversight committees requested copies last fall but received only a summary that omitted the most controversial findings — that some border agents stood in front of moving vehicles as a pretext to open fire and that agents could have moved away from rock throwers instead of shooting at them [...]

The [internal] response rejects the two major recommendations: barring border agents from shooting at vehicles unless its occupants are trying to kill them, and barring agents from shooting people who throw things that can't cause serious physical injury.

Meanwhile, in Arizona:

Border-area residents, upset with what they called an increased militarized presence in their community, began an effort Wednesday to monitor Border Patrol actions at a federal immigration checkpoint about 25 miles north of the U.S.-Mexico border in southern Arizona.

Organizers with a humanitarian aid group called People Helping People in the Border Zone have called on the Border Patrol to remove the checkpoint in Amado, a town of about 300 people. Some residents say they have to deal with unnecessary delays, harassment and sometimes abuse at the checkpoint.

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