Jesus Castro Romo, has been awarded $497,000 to supplement for damages caused by a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agent, Abel Canales. Canales shot Romo in the back when doing a routine 2010 immigration stop. On February 5th, Judge James Soto demanded the payment of $553,000 awarded to Romo, but reduced it by 10% since Romo was illegally trying to cross the border and therefore semi-responsible for his injury.
Canales was later sent to prison after his involvement with a drug cartel was discovered, deeming his defense untrustworthy. Castro is not only one of the only survivors of such CBP shootings, but federal courts have almost always rejected claims made by immigrants against single agents or the federal government. The ruling is one of the first to protect a Mexican citizen’s civil rights and deem the U.S. border agents and the federal government to be guilty.
More often than not, non-U.S. citizens are not awarded the same civil rights as U.S. citizens. Even more disheartening, 67 cases of border shootings from January 2010-October 2012 demonstrate a clear issue with CBP use of force. James F. Tomsheck, who used to head the CBP internal affairs, was removed and placed to a senior Border Patrol post, after he disclosed the indiscretions of the CBP.
Tomsheck divulged a less than flattering indictment of the CBP’s integrity:
- “CBP has a culture of impunity, seeing itself as above reproach and ‘constitutional constraints,’ and aims to shield agents’ misconduct and a massive corruption problem from outside scrutiny.”
- “Border Patrol officials have consistently tried to change or distort facts to make fatal shootings by agents appear to be ‘a good shoot’ and cover up any wrongdoing.”
- He also believes that “thousands of employees hired during an unprecedented expansion of the agency in the post-9/11 era are potentially unfit to carry a badge and gun.”
Although crossing the border into the U.S. from Mexico is illegal, the United States is still responsible for upholding international human rights with every person it encounters. Enforcement policies are largely ignored, and the use of force upon immigrants is inhuman and in violation of basic civil rights. A CBP reform needs to occur to end the fatal killings of Mexican citizens.