Human Rights Violations Along the Border

Illegal immigration is a significant issue in the United States. There are over 11.5 million illegal immigrants residing in the United States, and many continue to enter the United States (Preston 2011). This tremendous flow of immigrants is monitored and regulated by the United States Customs and Border Patrol (CBP). The CBP prides itself on being “the guardians of our nation’s borders” and puts strong emphasis on the importance of Integrity: “integrity is our cornerstone. We are guided by the highest ethical and moral principles. Our actions bring honor to ourselves and our agency.” Although the CBP claims to give to integrity, there have been numerous instances of violence and mistreatment of immigrants by border patrol officers and the number of reported cases of misconduct continues to increase rapidly.

The Obama Administration's $600 million border security bill resulted in heightened security and increased enforcement personnel along the border.

The rapid increase of reported misconduct of Border Patrol officers is largely attributed to the rapid size increase of the CBP itself. In 2010, Obama signed a $600 million border security bill which resulted in strengthened armed patrol and a rapid increase of border patrol officers, as 1,500 enforcement personnel were sent to the U.S-Mexico border alone (Huey-Burns 2010). Due to this enormous enlargement, many poorly trained, inexperienced, and immature officers have been called to duty. Compounding the problem, there is very little supervision, and few to no inspections of Border Patrol powers. Although these officers are assigned to patrol the border, they are accountable only to the federal government, which is rapidly increasing their ranks (Hing 2010). This is a tremendous problem because these inexperienced officers are generally the ones responsible for the misconduct and mistreatment of many immigrants. Due to the lack of supervision–as well as the unfortunate circumstances of these immigrants, such as lacking legal status, heading to jail or deportation, small voice, and practically no rights–many of these officers believe that they can mistreat the immigrants without consequence. Although some of border police have been caught and convicted for their crimes, many do get away with their crimes, which in some cases results in severe injury or death, such was the case of Anastacio Hernandez Rojas.

Anastacio Hernandez Rojas

Anastacio Hernandez Rojas was an undocumented immigrant who was in the process of being deported from the United States at the San Ysidro Port of Entry. When Anastacio resisted, he was repeatedly shot by a Taser stun gun. According to NBC San Diego, the entire confrontation was witnessed and recorded on a cell phone by Humberto Navarrete. According to Navarrete, “I was on my way to Tijuana. One of the uniformed agents had a knee on his back; another agent had his other knee on the back of his neck.” Navarrete proceeded to ask a nearby U.S. agent why they were using such “excessive force” and the agent replied that Anastacio was not cooperating. The border patrol officers then tazed Anastacio and according to Navarrete, “On the fifth discharge, we couldn’t hear Anastacio yelling anymore.” Hernandez later died of a heart attack; he was only 42 years old. This blatant display of injustice was immediately followed by numerous protests and rallies by many immigrant rights groups, as well as the Mexican government (Payton 2012). Five days after the incident, Hernandez died. His death was deemed a homicide; hypertension and methamphetamine use were the main causes of his death.

The unfortunate case of Anastacio is just one of many instances of the injustices that occur within Border Patrol. Many awareness groups have been working tirelessly to increase the public’s awareness to the terrible crimes committed by border patrol officers. Music artists, such as Emilio Rojas (a half Venezuelan, half Caucasian rapper), have also raised awareness about this issue; releasing numerous songs—such as Right to Stay—exposing the abuse that thousands of illegal immigrants suffer every year. Hopefully, public awareness of this issue will begin to pressure the government to address this problem, and the injustices within the Border Patrol will begin to diminish, and eventually disappear entirely.


“CBP Mission Statement and Core Values –” CBP Mission Statement and Core        Values – Web. <>.

Hing, Juilanne. “As Border Patrol Expands, So Do Reports of Misconduct – COLORLINES.” <>.

Huey-Burns, Caitlin. 12 Aug. 2010. “Senate Passes $600 Million Border Security Package.” US News. U.S.News & World Report,  <>.

“Illegal Immigrant Taser Death Ruled a Homicide.” 2 June 2010. NBC San Diego.  <–95449094.html>.

Payton, Mari. 3 May 2012. “Vigil Planned for Alleged Border Brutality Victim.” NBC San Diego. <–150043435.html>.

Preston, Julia. 2 Feb. 2011.  “11.2 Million Illegal Immigrants in U.S. in 2010, Report Says; No Change From ’09.” The New York Times