The following is a press release from the Border Network for Human Rights
Border Stakeholders Recognize Historic and Unprecedented Effort to Bring Quality, Oversight and Accountability to Border Enforcement
El Paso, TX/Southern New Mexico– In the midst of a national discussion over the actions and strategies of US border agencies and on the heels of a new announcement from Democratic House leaders to move a discharge petition on HR 15, Congressmen Steve Pearce (NM-2, R) and Beto O’Rourke (TX-16, D) introduced the Border Accountability and Community Engagement bill today. This legislation represents an unprecedented bi-partisan effort to create and enhance border oversight mechanisms for federal law enforcement agencies working on border enforcement.
Additionally, the Pearce-O’Rourke proposal addresses the issues of border agents’ civil and human rights training, the protocols and guidelines of the use of lethal force at the border, the creation of a DHS Ombudsman to promote institutional best practices, and important steps to prevent the dramatic situation of migrant deaths at the US/Mexico border.
Said Fernando Garcia, Executive Director of the Border Network for Human Rights, “This Border Accountability proposal is unprecedented and historic. It raises the concerns of border and non-border residents about the fast-pace expansion of border enforcement personnel, infrastructure and strategies with to no check and balances, and with complete disregard to the quality of life and the protection of rights of border residents and immigrant families.
“The O’Rourke/Pearce bi-partisan legislation also provides an alternative to the Senate’s wasteful and irresponsible approach to border enforcement, and represents a proactive, border community oriented, complement to current House bi-partisan border initiatives.”
Added Susie Byrd, El Paso Independent School District Board of Trustees Elect, “Border residents have long fought to ensure that CBP is held to the same standards of accountability and transparency as local law enforcement agencies. Institutionalizing accountability and transparency will build trust within the community and give those individuals who feel that they have been subject to wrongful treatment an avenue to have their complaints heard and acted upon.”
A multi-sector border delegation organized by the Border Network for Human Rights (BNHR) joined Congressman Pearce and Congressman O’Rourke in DC today to recognize their leadership and deliver over 4,000 petitions from constituents to welcome this historic piece of legislation that will bring quality and accountability to our border enforcement and promote the civil and human rights of border residents.
Today’s event coincided with similar press conferences in El Paso, TX, and Las Cruces, NM, where hundreds of border residents are turning out to show their support for this new bill.
Read the 2-page synopsis of the Border Accountability and Engagement Bill HERE.