Border police “shadow police unit” has been helping cover up abuses for years, human rights groups say

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“Known by many names, BPCITs have existed since at least 1987 and appear to operate in many, if not all, sections of the country’s border police,” the lawmakers write, noting that they operate “as shadow police units outside the law. federal and without congressional authority. Their existence poses a threat to public safety by concealing police misconduct, allowing abuse, and aggravating impunity within the nation’s largest police agency, the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP). ). Immediate investigations on BPCIT are indispensable “.

SBCC notes the role of BPCITs in the cover-up surrounding the killing in 2010 of Anastasio Hernandez Rojas, father of five US citizens, at the hands of agents. He was tied up, beaten and brought to unconsciousness, only to die in the hospital. Earlier this year, the Los Angeles Times reported that 17 officers were involved in his killing.

“Anastasio’s death sparked public outcry and congressional action when a video of an eyewitness on national television was revealed exposing the lies told by agents,” SBCC tells lawmakers. “Border agents had initially described Anastasio as aggressive, standing and kicking an officer, but the video revealed that he was actually handcuffed and lying face down surrounded by a dozen officers who ended his life”.

“The San Diego BPCIT (known there as CIIT) was the first to be notified by border agents,” the letter continues. “The BPCIT never informed SDPD, the agency responsible for conducting the criminal investigation. Instead, the BPCIT contacted the FBI and asked them to accuse Anastasio of assault as he lay brain dead in the hospital. The FBI refused. The SDPD only became aware of the incident through a media investigation and located the scene of the incident on their own the next day, without the help of the BPCIT or other border agents. “

The letter then claims that BPCIT “tampered with evidence,” including an initial arrest report from the border patrol that said Hernandez Rojas had been condescending. The agent who wrote that report would later “[paint] a picture of an erratic and problematic Anastasio ”to the carabinieri investigating death.

Furthermore, the BPCIT failed to retain the video evidence, “the letter continues.” For several weeks, in a deliberate act of omission that led to the destruction of the evidence, BPCIT members repeatedly withheld the video surveillance footage requested by the ‘SDPD and instead provided footage of the SDPD that was not related to the incident, while allowing the requested footage to be deleted. and registered. “It’s intentional – federal immigration officials you already have a story the elimination of important footage surrounding the death of immigrants.

SBCC notes that when no officer was accused of The killing of Hernandez Rojas ” The family petitioned the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, which agreed to review the case in the first-ever investigation of an extrajudicial murder by law enforcement in the United States. The Inter-American Commission is currently awaiting a response from the United States on the case “.

Former Border Patrol Chief Rodney Scott, appointed to the post by the previous president and fired from the current one, was named as a participant in that cover-up, The LA Times noticed. In a testament to his anti-immigrant animus, Scott made an attack on the Biden administration’s policy of requiring “undocumented noncitizen” to be used in place of the offensive term “illegal alien”.

“The excessive reach of BPCITs is profound,” SBCC tells lawmakers in urging an investigation. “The extent of their illicit behavior undermines public safety and public trust. And the fact that they have been able to operate unchecked for decades is alarming. As the Border Patrol’s primary tool for protecting agents from liability, BPCITs must be called upon by Congress. “

“The fact that no border officer has ever been successfully prosecuted in the nearly 100-year history of the border police is no coincidence,” said SBCC director Vicki Gaubeca. She said. “It was designed and for more than three decades led to impunity directly due to the interference of unauthorized cover-up units of the border patrol who protected officers rather than members of the public harmed by them. This has to stop and Congress can play a vital role. We ask Congress to investigate these covered-up units, assess the damage they have caused and close them. “

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