EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – A civil rights organization on Monday launched a binational campaign to document abuses against migrants and minority communities in the Southwestern United States and in Mexico.
The Border Network for Human Rights says its annual documentation campaign will begin in El Paso and expand to South Texas and the Republic of Mexico. Trained volunteers will be setting up tables in stores and public gathering places and canvassing those coming through U.S.-Mexico ports of entry about how they were treated by uniformed officers.
“We actually go into our communities, ask our residents in El Paso, in Southern New Mexico about how they feel about the actions of law enforcement,” said Fernando Garcia, executive director of BNHR. “We have done this for 23 years. This year there’s a twist; we’re expanding the campaign all along the Texas-Mexico border and working with a partner in Mexico to reach those on their way to the border or who have been expelled under Title 42.”
Previous campaigns have turned up testimony from legal immigrants who alleged being mistreated at ports of entry, in Hispanic neighborhoods close to border wall, and in communities with large immigrant populations such as Socorro and Canutillo, Texas. Last year, at least two women complained of being selected for “random” inspections at ports of entry that included being submitted to a cavity search.
When Border Report reached out to U.S. Customs and Border Protection about the allegations last year, federal officials said they encouraged residents to ask for a supervisor or file a formal complaint when they feel they have been treated unfairly.
“We use this campaign to educate the community about their rights and find individuals whose civil rights were violated by local, state or federal law enforcement,” Garcia said. “We bring that information to the public and also go to law enforcement agencies and push for change in practices and protocols that result in constitutional and human rights abuses.”
Group volunteers will be in Marfa, Ruidosa and Terlingua, Texas, later this month to interview residents; BNHR’s staff in their new Presidio and Del Rio offices will do likewise. The organization is also partnering with ARISE Adelante and Border Workers United to take the campaign into South Texas.
In Mexico, BNHR will be training staff of Mexican Organization of Human Rights to visit cities in Southern Mexico known to be on the migrant corridor from the Guatemala border to Texas. The volunteers will be asking migrants about their treatment by Mexican authorities and whether they have been victims of violent crimes passing through Mexico.
To learn more about the abuse documentation campaign or view testimonies from last year’s report, visit bnhr.org.