Bipartisan bill aims to oversee Border Patrol agents

KTSM
Sunday, February 9, 2014 - 12:49am

Two local congressmen from different parties are coming together to work on a bill that aims to protect your rights.
They want to make sure U.S. Border Patrol Agents don't overstep their authority.
Congressmen Steve Pearce and Beto O'Rourke announced their bipartisan bill at the Border Network for Human Rights annual gathering today.
They say the Border Patrol Agency has gone without oversight for too long.

The proposal is trying to reflect the needs of people who live on the border back to law makers in Washington DC.

"We have a big problem on the border. A big disconnect. Policies in Washington and the facts of life on the border aren’t the same," said O’Rourke.

The bill aims to stop border patrol agents from going too far when they are doing their jobs.

"On a daily basis in downtown El Paso, I meet bridge crossers who just spent hours in line and are treated with less respect when they get to the front of the line. And have no means to hold those officers accountable for the treatment they received," he said.

O'Rourke, a democrat, and Pearce, a republican, announced their bill in front of a few hundred border residents.

To start, the bill will look at cases where abuse has been reported.

"We are going to find something that is an abuse and we are going to start talking about it,” said Pearce. “That'll send a message to the rest of the agencies that you are no longer invisible. That people are watching."

And this is exactly what the BNHR has been working for.

"Clear guild lines, protocols for a new enforcement on the border,” said BNHR Executive Director Fernando Garcia. “An enforcement that is accountable. An enforcement that includes border communities in the solution. And especially an enforcement that is plain to respect human and civil rights."

Besides changing border policies, the congressmen also hope going across party lines can help end the partisanship in Washington.

"People to say well there are things that we can agree on. The values of this bill are very conservative. They are also very liberal. We come right together on this," said Pearce.

"We want to make sure that every single person who goes through there is treated with the utmost dignity and respect. Their constitutional protections are recognized," said O’Rourke.

The bill would create new channels for people to report and resolve issues with CBP officers and would also include new training for agents.

O'Rourke said the bill will be presented in the House later this month and that there's a good chance of it being passed into law.  

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