A Hard Look at the Issues
The longstanding national dialogue about the U.S.-Mexico border has centered almost exclusively on notions of “security” and “enforcement” that should be addressed through increased militarization and a wall. Under this narrative, people from outside of the region can only imagine a barren, dangerous, and chaotic wasteland -- a patently false narrative that some policymakers and pundits exploit for political gain and to advance policies that are detrimental to the civil rights and quality of life for the millions of people who live, work and travel through the borderlands.
The U.S. Customs and Border Protection, which includes the Border Patrol, is the largest law enforcement agency in the country. Unlike other federal agencies, CBP officers are uniquely granted extraordinary and unprecedented powers to interrogate people, board and search their vehicles and other conveyances, and enter onto private property without a warrant. They are also granted the power to make an arrest without a warrant, as other agencies are allowed to do, under limited circumstances. The Fourth Amendment is intended to protect all people against unreasonable searches and seizures, and the courts have interpreted CBP powers as requiring at least some level of reasonable suspicion or probable cause. But CBP continues to abuse these powers to violate our rights. Click to learn more
For years, the Border Patrol has operated with little or no oversight, accountability or transparency, leading to abuses and death across our nation’s borders. Under the Trump Administration, the Border Patrol gained additional agents and even more resources and military grade weapons. Coupled with the extraordinary powers its officers enjoy and a deeply ingrained culture of violence, the Border Patrol is out of control and operates with impunity. Click to learn more
Border residents are often victims of the CBP, an out-of-control agency with extraordinary powers whose officers can racially profile residents, stop and detain. CBP’s lack of accountability and oversight paired with its culture of violence has resulted in the loss of lives of U.S. citizens and noncitizens. Since January 2010, more than 130 people have died as the result of an encounter with a CBP agent. Many more have been brutalized, in some cases causing life-altering injuries. SBCC has tracked these deaths based on media coverage and press releases from CBP at the time of these incidents.
The Trump Administration painted a skewed image of the borderlands, citing unsafe and chaotic conditions to justify expanding border wall construction. This false narrative of the border is divisive and has previously moved Congress to increase militarization of the border region. The border is defined up to 100 air miles from any land or maritime border. Border Patrol runs checkpoints, uses roving patrols in communities, and gives officers with military-grade equipment a green light to infringe on the civil rights of millions. Click to learn more