Reading Between the Lines: Need to Know’s “Crossing the Line” Suggests a Reexamination of the Border Patrol’s Culture – Rachel Stonecipher
In 2012, a series of PBS investigations into Border Patrol abuses corroborated years of humanitarian volunteers’ reports, finding that the agency’s institutional culture cultivates a climate of medical neglect – and sometimes outright harm – toward migrant detainees. In July 2012, the PBS show Need to Know aired the second installment of its U.S.-Mexico border series “Crossing the Line,” an investigation into abuses of migrants in Border Patrol custody. The program reported that agents in the Tucson Sector, the busiest of nine regional divisions of the Border Patrol on the U.S.-Mexico border, have been accused of thousands of physical, verbal, and sexual abuses against migrants who are usually deported before they can report the crimes. “Crossing the Line, part 2” focused on the problem of poor treatment during detention, while Part I addressed agents’ excessive use of force. In light of my own research with humanitarian volunteers, the two programs prove the frequency and injuriousness of abuse. Although PBS stops short of claiming that the Border Patrol’s “war on illegal immigration” actually promotes harm against migrants, to some volunteers’ dismay (including my own), “Crossing the Line” effectively conveys that abuse is an institutional problem that takes direct and indirect forms – including impunity.
- In the early months of his second term, President Obama plans to swiftly seek a path to citizenship for most of the country’s undocumented population as part of a comprehensive bill overhauling the immigration system.
- The Obama administration will soon introduce a waiver that can lift the 10-year bar on reentry into the country for undocumented spouses and children of legal residents, who are required to return to their countries of origin to be issued green cards. Previously an unavoidable Catch-22, the ban kicked in whenever family members left the country to retrieve their cards. This change suggests that administration is moving ahead on immigration reform through executive action in anticipation of a larger legislative battle in the months ahead.
- Following a public outcry driven largely by social media, the mother and brother of prominent Dream Act activist Erika Andiola, who had been arrested by ICE in Phoenix on January 10th, were released from detention. Read more…
- Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced on December 21 that in fiscal year 2012, it deported 409,849 individuals, an all-time record high. In the same period, ICE audited a record number of companies for undocumented immigrants on their payrolls.
- Also in its year-end press release, ICE announced new “immigration hold” guidelines that aim to focus mainly on targeting serious criminals for detention. However, the memo states that mere “illegal entry” to the U.S. can justify a detainer.
- Colorlines.com reported that between July 1, 2010 and September 30, 2012, ICE deported nearly 205,000 parents of U.S. citizen children, comprising 23 percent of all deportations. Read more…