Bipartisan bill aims to hold border law enforcement accountable

Updated: Tuesday, August 5 2014, 06:08 PM MDT
Bipartisan bill aims to hold border law enforcement accountable story image

By: Bill Melugin
EL PASO, Texas – U.S. Reps. Beto O’Rourke and Steve Pearce are pushing a bill that seeks to hold U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents accountable for human-rights violations.

O’Rourke, a Democrat serving El Paso, and Pearce, a Republican serving New Mexico, are proposing the bill after a U.S. citizen filed a lawsuit against CBP in December alleging excessive search procedures.

“Unfortunately, we had a situation here in El Paso where a U.S. citizen woman was crossing the Bridge of the Americas,” O’Rourke said. “She was suspected of having drugs, she was detained for over 6 hours, she was invasively searched, strip searched, body cavity searched. She was given laxatives and forced to perform a bowl movement in front of CBP officers. She was taken to University Medical Center; there, doctors performed more invasive searches and X-rays against her will. And then at the end of the day she was sent a bill for $5,000. They didn't discover any drugs or any traces of drugs."

O’Rourke told KFOX14 the bill would give more training to CBP and Border Patrol agents, and help to hold them more accountable.

"The bill includes a commission with representatives from southern border states and northern border states that will have subpoena power to get information we need from CBP, from ICE, and from the Border Patrol,” O’Rourke said. “We’ll also have an ombudsman to whom anyone who has a complaint about how they were treated by law enforcement on the border can file that complaint to that person, and that complaint will be resolved in a timely manner."

O’Rourke expects the bill to make life on the border better for U.S. citizens and Mexicans, but also for the border agents as well.

“We can support those men and women who have those tough jobs with necessary resources, but there's also oversight, accountability and transparency,” O’Rourke said. “So when we want to know about the policies and the use-of-force guidelines, when we want to have someone who can take complaints from those who are traveling along the border that those things are resolved and processed, we can get that done."

O’Rourke said these days it’s rare to see Republicans and Democrats working together on something, especially when it comes to the border. Because the bill is bipartisan, he is expecting it to garner serious support inCongress.

"I see this improving the quality of life in our community. A lot of people don't know this, but we have 22 million crossings every year in just El Paso,” O’Rourke said. “Those are Juarenzes coming over to spend money in our stores, to go to UTEP, to work in our economy, but those are also U.S. citizens returning.”

On Friday, Border Patrol Chief Michael Fisher issued a directive for agents to stop shooting at fleeing vehicles, and to consider all possible alternatives before using lethal force when projectiles like rocks are being thrown at them.

That directive reads in part, "Agents shall not discharge firearms in response to thrown or hurled projectiles unless the agent has a reasonable belief based on the totality of the circumstances to include the size of nature of the projectiles that the subject of such force poses an imminent danger of death or serious injury.”

Bipartisan bill aims to hold border law enforcement accountable
comments powered by Disqus

El Paso Times Headlines

UTEP football: Miners square off with New Mexico
At some point early next week, whether Tuesday in Albuquerque or Monday in El Paso, a head coach will begin a press conference after a loss in a rivalry game and talk about getting better, moving forward, dealing with adversity and point out that there are still 11 games left.
Pedestrian hit by train at Copia and Rosa
A pedestrian was struck by a train today between Stevens and Copia streets, officials said.
Tiempo calendar: Clint Black, Fiesta de las Flores, Sun City Music Festival
Today, Aug. 29 Brantley Gilbert: The award-winning country music singer will perform at 8 p.m. Aug. 29 at the Inn of the Mountain Gods Resort & Casino, Mescalero, N.M.
Ferguson slowly starting to make comeback
FERGUSON, Mo. (AP) - The unmistakable signs of healing are beginning to dot Ferguson, even the small area of this St. Louis-area suburb that was the center of attention for three weeks. But those in the community know they've got a long way to go.
State Department weighs in on Day of the Disappeared today
Mexicans in Exile plans to join an international movement today that seeks justice for victims of forced disappearances and their families and in observance of "International Day of the Victims of Forced Disappearances.
Fiesta de las Flores takes over County Coliseum
El Paso's popular annual Fiesta de las Flores is set during the Labor day Weekend at the El Paso County Coliseum, 4100 E. Paisano. Admission to the four-day annual event is free and will start at 5:30 p.m. today with a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
High school football: No. 1 Franklin holds off No. 2 Canutillo
With the game on the line against No. 2 Canutillo on Friday night, the No. 1-ranked Franklin Cougars made all the big plays when they needed to and the result was a 24-13 win at Canutillo in the
Dog turns on stove, which then sets laptop ablaze
LACEY TOWNSHIP, N.J. (AP) - Police say a New Jersey family's dog turned on the stove, which caught the laptop resting on the burner on fire and sent smoke through the roof.
KFOX Weather: Mostly sunny and dry
Today: Mostly sunny and dry. El Paso 96/72. Las Cruces 95/67. South winds 5 to 10 mph..
New Garrison commander talks about supporting soldiers, goals for future
FORT BLISS >> The new Garrison commander has a different way of looking at things whenever he comes across road construction when traveling around Fort Bliss.
Week 1: El Paso-area high school football scores
Franklin 24, Canutillo 13 Coronado 48, Andress 28 El Dorado 31, Eastlake 23 El Paso High 41, Clint 20 Irvin 9, Parkland 7 Americas 35, Carlsbad 19 Socorro 34, Horizon 10 Austin 23, Bel Air
Friday's high school football scores from around Texas
PREP FOOTBALL Class 6A Abilene 38, Colleyville Heritage 17 Aldine Eisenhower 7, Fort Bend Hightower 0 Allen 55, Denton Guyer 41 Arlington Bowie 72, Dallas Jesuit 49 Arlington Lamar
Controversial El Paso water fee may be changed, PSB official says
The city's recently approved and controversial water franchise fee may be in for a change. An alternative proposal to what the City Council passed is being worked on and is expected to be ready to
Three El Paso bars temporarily close following narcotics investigation
A long-term investigation by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission led to the arrest of 12 people — some with connections to the Barrio Azteca street gang — on suspicion of distributing cocaine in three bars, officials said Friday.
Nonprofit says ISIS is in Juarez, US officials reject claim
An organization that investigates government corruption posted on its website Friday claims that Islamic terrorist groups are operating in Juárez and plan to attack the United States with car bombs and other explosives.

Top Stories

Come back often for updates of top national, state and local El Paso area news stories. KFOX covers topics including politics, crime, sports, entertainment, health, economy and other news related subjects. KFOX is dedicated to providing the best, timely and up to date news reporting for El Paso and New Mexico.

Talkers

advertisement
KFOX14 El Paso - Live Cast Watch live broadcasts of KFOX14 News seven days a week!
advertisement
advertisement