News / USA

US Border Activists Urge Humane Immigration Reform

Border activist Valentin Tachiquin speaks outside the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC, February 27, 2013, in a rally organized by Border Network for Human Rights, the Southern Border Communities Coalition, the Northern Border Coalition, the Justice in Immigration Law Coalition, the Campaign for Accountable, Moral and Balanced Immigration Overhaul, and the Reform Immigration for Texas Alliance.
Border activist Valentin Tachiquin speaks outside the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC, February 27, 2013, in a rally organized by Border Network for Human Rights, the Southern Border Communities Coalition, the Northern Border Coalition, the Justice in Immigration Law Coalition, the Campaign for Accountable, Moral and Balanced Immigration Overhaul, and the Reform Immigration for Texas Alliance.

Valentin Tachiquin banged nine times on a metal podium outside the U.S. Capitol Building, the number of times his daughter was shot to death by a border patrol agent last year.

“I’m not a politician, I’m a hurting dad,” Tachiquin, a Hispanic U.S. citizen who works as a corrections officer at the California Institution for Women, said Wednesday. “I would die for this country, but don’t kill my family just because you have a badge.”

Border activists traveled across the country to Washington to put a human face on immigration reform, February 27, 2013.Border activists traveled across the country to Washington to put a human face on immigration reform, February 27, 2013.
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Border activists traveled across the country to Washington to put a human face on immigration reform, February 27, 2013.
Border activists traveled across the country to Washington to put a human face on immigration reform, February 27, 2013.
Tachiquin is part of a group of civil and human rights activists, local politicians, business and faith leaders who traveled to Washington from communities along the Mexican and Canadian borders this week. They're urging members of Congress to take a more humane approach to border security in an upcoming immigration reform bill.

A bipartisan group of senators plans to propose the new legislation next month in a bid to better address how the U.S. stops immigrants from entering the country illegally and works with unauthorized immigrants already in the country.

Questions of conduct

Tachiquin said the border is now being patrolled by agents who lack training and haven’t had the proper background checks.

“I want Congress to implement new mechanisms so that the citizens of this country won’t be harassed by the Border Patrol Agency,” he said.

Tachiquin’s 32-year-old daughter Valeria Munique Tachiquin Alvarado, a U.S. citizen, was killed last September by an undercover border patrol agent in Chula Vista, California.

Police say the agent, dispatched to arrest a formerly deported felon embroiled in drug offenses, ended up shooting Alvarado through her car windshield, fearing for his life, after she struck him with the vehicle. The case is still under investigation.

Concerns about the conduct of border agents have grown in recent years, as news outlets expose alleged abuses. Last year, for example, the PBS documentary “Crossing the Line” interviewed a series of witnesses and victims who spoke of torture and sexual and psychological abuse at the hands of border agents. It also showed hidden camera footage of agents pouring out water jugs an aid organization had left in the desert for dehydrated immigrants crossing the border from Mexico.

Jenny Burke, a spokeswoman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, said the force stresses honor and integrity in every aspect of its mission.

“The overwhelming majority of CBP employees and officers perform their duties with honor and distinction, working tirelessly everyday to keep our country safe,” she said. “We do not tolerate corruption or abuse within our ranks, and we fully cooperate with any criminal or administrative investigations of alleged misconduct by any of our personnel, on or off duty.”

Boots on the ground

Customs and Border Protection has more than 18,500 agents on the border with Mexico and more than 2,200 on the border with Canada, according to the Department of Homeland Security. In addition, unmanned aircraft, helicopters and planes are flying overhead, while thermal imaging systems are in place and a fence stretching more than 1,000 kilometers divides the U.S. from Mexico.

Advocates of the current setup say Customs and Border Protection’s nearly $12 billion budget is well spent because the country is under siege from undocumented immigrants slipping across a porous border that could be penetrated by terrorists, too.

El Paso County Judge Veronica Escobar says the border needs an economic boost, not more drones in the air and boots on the ground. U.S. Capitol, Washington, February 27, 2013.El Paso County Judge Veronica Escobar says the border needs an economic boost, not more drones in the air and boots on the ground. U.S. Capitol, Washington, February 27, 2013.
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El Paso County Judge Veronica Escobar says the border needs an economic boost, not more drones in the air and boots on the ground. U.S. Capitol, Washington, February 27, 2013.
El Paso County Judge Veronica Escobar says the border needs an economic boost, not more drones in the air and boots on the ground. U.S. Capitol, Washington, February 27, 2013.
Veronica Escobar, a judge from El Paso County in western Texas, suggested Congress should divert some of the funds spent policing the border to improve accountability and oversight of the people watching it.

She also said taxpayer funds would be better spent on programs promoting commerce and tourism rather than what she called the "militarization" of the border.

“We need to divert the money to help our national economy,” she told the press conference.

Heated debate

Democratic Representative Beto O’Rourke of El Paso said the debate is often most fierce in the House of Representatives’ Homeland Security Committee, where he holds a seat.

“You have people who feel the border is not secure enough and they want to further fortify and militarize the border. Then you have people like me, who live on the border, in the safest city in America,” he said.

Despite this divide, O’Rourke said he felt optimistic that progress could be made after the committee's chairman, Republican Michael McCaul, noted Tuesday that the “border is as secure as it’s ever been.”

O’Rourke said because the border is relatively secure, it opens the possibility of discussing more comprehensive immigration reform, like the kind Tachiquin is pushing.

While members of Congress wage that battle in Washington, Tachiquin wants them to remember the people living that battle every day.

“They need to recognize we’re only human.”

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Comments
     
by: james from: dc
February 28, 2013 4:58 PM
THIS ARTICLE IS NONSENSE... i and other American patriots are getting tired of liberal nonsense being shoved down our throats by the media. and by the way, my IMMIGRANT parents came here legally. let's stop calling ILLEGAL ALIENS "immigrants.

by: Allen Bunch
February 28, 2013 2:19 PM
Carol, it would be nice if we really did need more workers. Unfortunately though, we are in the process of tearing down factories instead of building them.

It is a sad state of affairs when the value of a factory is determined by the amount of copper in it's wiring system. Anyone who thinks the US economy is going to bounce back is truly delusional.

by: Carol from: 22003
February 28, 2013 11:26 AM
Because: unlike other countries, our country consist of "immigrants" to begin with; but there is a reason for us to acknowledge it and that is: we need workers so that the old folks can afford to sit home and be paid. There is a gap in our population - we only have huge number of very young ones and the old ones ... there is a vacuum in the middle. Last but not the least, the economy of our country has hit the 'iceberg' and is going down in slow motion (like the Titanic). So it is good for us to bring workers from outside and let the economy recover by rolling the wheels.

by: John Berry
February 28, 2013 2:49 AM
Why do foreigners feel they must battle to cross our border and remain here in violation of our laws?
"...Tachiquin wants them to remember the people living that battle every day."
“They need to recognize we’re only human.”
Are the draws to the US really too much for people to bear? Do they feel so driven to break American laws?
The kind of reform we need is strict enforcement of laws against hiring illegal aliens. If they can't make any money there will be no reason to be here. When they're ALL standing in front of Home Depot they won't find enough to stay.
Other nations. particularly the Latin American countries, don't tolerate illegal immigration. Why should the USA?

by: Allen Bunch
February 28, 2013 2:16 AM
“They need to recognize we’re only human.”

He doesn't think that applies to American workers.

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