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Advocates say it's self-defense, opponents argue it's a violation of human rights
Thursday, November 7, 2013 - 12:43am
El Paso, TX (KDBC) — If you throw rocks at Border Patrol agents, there's a good chance you'll be shot.
The agency will be allowed to continue using deadly force against rock-throwers, despite a recommendation from the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) that Border Patrol reconsider its policy.
In 2010, an agent shot and killed a teen from Juarez after he said the boy began throwing rocks at him while he was trying to arrest an illegal immigrant - that sparked a national debate.
"If you're in fear of being shot by a Border Patrol agent, then don't assault them," said Shawn Moran, the Vice President and spokesperson for the National Border Patrol Council.
"We have a major systemic problem of the use of force against immigrants and border residents," said Fernando Garcia, the Executive Director for the Border Network for Human Rights.
Organizations like the 'Border Network for Human Rights' argue shooting a rock-thrower is an excessive punishment, but opponents say rocks can be just as deadly as guns.
"These people chose to become criminals. They're crossing illegally into our country. They chose to further become criminals by attacking Border Patrol agents. It's a gamble that they took and sometimes in gambling, you lose. And unfortunately, they had to lose their life," said Moran.
Moran argues agents only use force when it's absolutely necessary.
In fact, he said, no organization does more good for illegal aliens than the U.S. Border Patrol.
"We've had people beaten by police officers in Mexico jump the border fence because they knew that the Border Patrol was not going to beat them and that they were going to get medical care," said Moran.
But Fernando Garcia strongly disagrees.
He says crossing the border isn't even a criminal act in the first place - it's more of an administrative offense, like running a red light.
"You don't call those people illegal. And then you don't go after them like that, you don't shot (sic) at them," said Garcia.
"If you run a red light, you could kill someone. So, should we just excuse that and just pass it off as just an administrative violation?" said Moran.
As for PERF, which recommended Border Patrol not use deadly force against rock-throwers, they only advise government agencies and those agencies are not obligated to follow those recommendations.