Chronology of Border Patrol Use of Force Issues since 2010

Chronology of Border Patrol Use of Force Issues since 2010


Anastasio Hernandez Rojas is tortured to death by over a dozen border agents (CBP and Border Patrol) at San Ysidro port-of-entry in California in view of border travelers. Witnesses video record his cries for help. The video footage is too dark to make out what is taking place, but Hernandez’s cries for help are clear and alarming. Some witnesses had their recording devices confiscated and videos deleted by the U.S. port-of-entry officials. Border Patrol claims Hernandez was combative and uncooperative, requiring use of force. Eyewitnesses claim otherwise. Almost two years later, a new eyewitness video surfaced that supports eyewitnesses accounts (see below).

Watch: Eyewitness video


Sergio Adrian Huereca, 15, is shot to death on the U.S.-Mexico border near El Paso, Texas while standing in Mexico. CBP officials claim that the Border Patrol agent was surrounded by a group tossing rocks. An eyewitness video does not support these facts, showing the agent firing shots at individuals who are at a distance and outside the frame of the camera. The agent is also wearing a bicycle helmet. The Department of Justice later dismisses the case due to lack of jurisdiction.

Watch: Eyewitness video


U.S. Citizen Carlos La Madrid, 19, was shot four times in the back near Douglas, Arizona. Border Patrol states that someone on a ladder above him was throwing rocks.

Article: Carlos Lamadrid’s Mother, 19-Year-Old Killed By Border Patrol, Sues


Culture of Cruelty report is released by Arizona based No More Deaths, revealing thousands of cases of abuse by CBP.

Download: A Culture of Cruelty


Nearly two years after the killing of Anastasio Hernandez Rojas and after no movement whatsoever by the authorities to investigate the case, PBS airs never before seen eyewitness footage of the beating and killing of Hernandez revealing a man who was detained, hogtied and face down on the ground while agents kicked, punched and Tasered him at least five times until his heart stopped.

Watch: Need to Know – Crossing the Line At The Border


Over nine cities across the country take part in demonstrations demanding justice for Anastasio Hernandez Rojas and border families affected by Border Patrol abuse.

Press Release: Families Affected by Border Brutality Joined By Vigils Across the U.S.


Maria Luz Rojas, mother of Anastasio Hernandez Rojas, and representatives of the Southern Border Communities Coalition travel to Washington D.C. to deliver a petition signed by over 30,000 people to the Department of Justice asking for investigations into all deaths caused by lethal use-of-force by CBP, and for accountability and oversight.

As a result of this visit, 16 members of Congress write letters to Janet Napolitano (DHS), Inspector General Charles K. Edwards, and Attorney General Eric Holder (DOJ), raising questions about the serious problems stemming from the use of force by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers and agents.


Letter to Janet Napolitano (DHS)
Letter to Inspector General Charles K. Edwards
Letter to Attorney General Eric Holder


ACLU presents Human Rights Violations on the United States-Mexico Border to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, which details the alarming trend of abuse and lethal excessive use of force at the hands of CBP officers and agents.

Download: Human Rights Violations on the United States-Mexico Border


A grand jury announces investigation in the case of Anastasio Hernandez Rojas.

Article: AP NewsBreak – Grand Jury Probes Border Death


Valeria Munique Tachiquin, U.S. citizen and mother of five, is killed in an urban community by a federal agent serving a warrant for someone else.  The agent, Justin Tackett, had been previously fired from his career as an Imperial County sheriff’s deputy. In a termination letter written by Imperial County Sheriff’s Department Chief Sharon Housouer, Tackett was described as being unfit to carry a badge or a gun due to his history of misconduct.

Watch: Investigative Series

Download: Tacket vs. County of Imperial


José Antonio Elena Rodriguez, 16, is killed while standing in Nogales, Mexico near the U.S.-Mexico border fence in Arizona. Border Patrol claims individuals were throwing rocks. Investigative reports reveal conflicting accounts.

Article: LA Times - Border Patrol shooting of Mexican teen draws condemnation


The United Nations declares that U.S. uses excessive force along Mexican border. U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said that law enforcement officials should use non-violent methods before any forceful action is taken. Pillay calls on the U.S. and Mexico to transparently investigate incidents where lethal force was used. 



According to Government Accountability Reports, the number of border patrol agents has doubled between 2004 to 2012. But a source says that getting into the Border Patrol training academy is easy. The course periods have dropped from 20 weeks to 12 weeks and a couple of requirements have been cut back. Members of Congress question the agency’s accountability. 

Article: Inside sources say Border Patrol agents are a ‘menace to society’.


SBCC releases Better Border Briefing with recommendations by border communities for improved border policy.

Border Briefing: Why We Need Better Borders, Not More Border Enforcement 

  1. Benchmarks for Border Security Have Been Met. 
  2. Border Communities are Safe. 
  3. Net Unauthorized Migration from Mexico has Fallen to Zero. 
  4. Border Enforcement Costs Billions, Can We Afford More? 
  5. With Crossings at a Historic Low, Apprehensions are Manageable. 
  6. Effecient Ports of Entry Should be the Priority Moving Forward. 
  7. Heartland States Depend on Efficient Ports at the Southern Border. 
  8. The Dangers of Unchecked Border Enforcement. 
  9. A Better Border Begins with Efficiency & Accountability 



Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard meets with families of victims of Border Patrol brutality. She acknowledges the excessive use of force by border patrol agents and the need to better train these agents. Rep. Roybal-Allard says that these families need to be heard before any new decisions on border enforcement are made.

Press Release:


Over the Line : Why are U.S. Border Patrol agents shooting into Mexico and killing innocent civilians? - Washington Monthly article providing an overview of abuse incidents and rock throwing in particular. The article also highlights the problems of rapidly increasing the number of border patrol agents, which results in more inexperienced agents and correlates with the unjustified killings of people by border patrol agents.

Article: Over the Line


Leaked Border Patrol report expresses dangers of irresponsible enforcement buildup. Oversight and accountability are not being looked into and instead Senate has proposed to increase the number of agents from 20,000 to 45,000.

Press Release:


Office of Inspector General (OIG) releases report – U.S. Customs and Border Protection Use of Force Training and Actions to Address Use of Force Incidents.


SBCC critiques report as incomplete and insufficient.


An audit of the Border Patrol training finds that many agents don’t understand the use-of-force-rules. It also found the trainings to be too short and there was a lack of tests given in the comprehension of the use of “less-lethal” force.

LA Times: Many border agents don’t understand use-of-force rules, report says


CBP web post on Use of Force Reviews, Recommendations and Next Steps (posted on the morning of the Southwest Border Forum, prior to meeting with SBCC).



White House blog post regarding Southwest Border Forum (White House forum held with SBCC and multiple governmental representatives on 9/25/13).

It talks about the Senate bill and ways it could fix the broken immigration system, such as improving the visa processing and giving farm workers an opportunity to gain citizenship.



CBP reveals Police Executive Review Forum (PERF) report has been issued with recommendations to change use-of-force policy. Border Patrol Chief Mike Fisher states that the Border Patrol will not follow these best police practices recommendations and that the agency will continue to use lethal force.



Article: US Border Patrol has ‘alarming’ alcohol problem, says internal memo and inside source

U.S. Border Patrol Chief Michael Fisher writes a memo about the Border Patrol averaging two alcohol-related arrests a week. An inside source tells of border agents showing up to work drunk and still allowed to work. 


Border communities send nearly 200 quilt panels expressing stories of loss as a result of border militarization. The Border Quilt is displayed on the National Mall in sight of the Capitol Building.

Press Release:


Twenty members of Congress sign a letter addressed to Custom and Border Protections’ Acting Commissioner Thomas Winkowski requesting a meeting to discuss growing concerns about the agency’s lack of accountability and oversight, which has resulted in countless cases of abuse and corruption within the agency.



Arizona Republic reports that 42 individuals have been killed by Border Patrol agents since Feb. 2005 and, “In none of the 42 deaths is any agent or officer publicly known to have faced consequences – not from the Border Patrol, not from Customs and Border Protection or Homeland Security, not from the Department of Justice, and not, ultimately, from criminal or civil courts.”



ACLU Border Affiliates Sue Feds, Hospital for Invasive Cavity Searches of Woman

A 54-year-old woman was subjected to a strip-search and later taken to the University Medical Center of El Paso for other unjustified examinations that lasted for six hours- all without a warrant. She was then released without charge. The woman, who is a U.S. citizen, was only attempting to cross a bridge in El Paso to return to the U.S. from Mexico when CBP agents stopped her.

Press Release:


USA Today: Numbers don’t back need for lethal force at border

Border Patrol Chief Michael Fisher told The Associated Press that “to say that you shouldn’t shoot at rock-throwers or vehicles, for us, in our environment … could potentially put Border Patrol agents in danger.” But data from Custom and border protection and the FBI proves that local police and sheriff’s deputies are more likely to be assaulted than a Border Patrol agent. The data proves that there needs to be better training for agents and changes to the use-of-force policy. 


NBC San Diego “Politically Speaking” segment with Shawn Moran, the VP of the national BP union discussing PERF, rock throwing, allegations of abuse.


Border Patrol staff show children how to shoot with paintball guns at fully-dressed target. The “shooting range” is a few feet from the border fence and a 100 feet from a location where actual people have been killed. This event is not only a symbol of the Border Patrol agency’s violent use-of-force, but it also enforces the obvious need for accountability and oversight of the Border Patrol agency. 

Press Release: Disturbing Images Show Border Agents Encouraging Children to Shoot at Human Effigy


Man who shot controversial Border Patrol brutality video fights for release from jail.

Jose Guzman, the man who released a cellphone video to 10News of a controversial Border Patrol arrest, was arrested for supposedly violating the terms of CPAC. CPAC arrested him for not contacting his case worker after making contact with the Border Patrol agents. Judge agrees with Guzman’s attorney that there should’ve been an administrative hearing with Guzman by CPAC before the arrest. 

Also see: Cellphone video of Border Patrol arrest raises questions of excessive force


Press Relesase: Sheriff’s Report on Migrant Killing Raises Concern About Impartiality


Press Release: The IACHR Expresses Deep Concern Over the Deaths of Migrants Caused by the U.S. Border Patrol


Press Release: Release of PERF Report and Revised Use-of-Force Policies a Victory for Southern Border Communities

A review of the released documents reveals that most, if not all, of the PERF recommendations were included in the new Use of Force Handbook. These include new policies that direct agents to do the following:

  • Report all incidents of use of force for the agency to review.
  • Limit use of Electronic Control Weapons (Tasers) to situations in which subject is resisting in a manner that will cause injury;
  • Do not apply more than 3 times or to sensitive areas, or in flammable situations, or to vulnerable populations (children, etc.).
  • Do not shoot at moving vehicles unless imminent threat of serious injury or death; Do not shoot at fleeing vehicles; Do not place yourself in the path of moving vehicle.
  • Do not shoot in response to projectiles unless there is danger of serious death or injury; Seek cover or remove yourself from area of danger.


U.S. Citizen shot 9 times in the back by border patrol agent hours after PERF report and revised use-of-force policies were released. 


Los Angeles Times: Border agency ousts head of internal affairs, will investigate unit.

“The head of internal affairs for U.S. Customs and Border Protection was removed from his post Monday amid criticism that he failed to investigate hundreds of allegations of abuse and use of force by armed border agents, officials said.” 

Records released last month showed that only 13 out of 809 abuse complaints sent to Customs and Border Protection’s office of internal affairs between January 2009 and January 2012 led to disciplinary action.

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