Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

July 5, 2011

Arizona Police: Tired of the 'Lies' and Delays of Border Patrol Agents

Mike Wilson/Photo by Brenda Norrell

Arizona police e-mails reveal Border Patrol agents failure to respond to calls, and lies of Border Patrol agents in high speed chases resulting in collision

Article and photo by Brenda Norrell
Censored News
Photo: Mike Wilson, Tohono O'odham, provides water for migrants dying in the Sonoran Desert. Photo Brenda Norrell.

TUCSON -- Arizona police say they are tired of the lies of Border Patrol agents who are involved in high speed chases. Further, Arizona police say they are frustrated with the delays of Border Patrol agents who fail to respond to calls, when migrants are in distress in the desert where temperatures exceed 110 degrees, according to police files leaked by hackers.

The leaked e-mails support the statements of Tohono O’odham who say they are victims of the lies of US Border Patrol agents. Tohono O'odham say Border Patrol agents are causing collisions due to the agents reckless high speed chases on the Tohono O'odham Nation, and then blaming O'odham for the crashes.

In the police e-mails, Arizona police report that Border Patrol agents are failing to respond to calls, leaving migrants already in distress in the desert without water for long periods of time. The e-mails point out the delays from agents in Why, Arizona, on the Tohono Oodham border, north of Lukeville, a region with the highest number of migrant deaths from dehydration in recent years. Temperatures range from 110 to 116 degrees during summer months here in the Sonoran Desert.

“We do not have the manpower to sit and wait for Border Patrol,” one Arizona officer said in the e-mails.

Below are three internal police e-mails from 2010, made public by hackers. The e-mails refer to ETA (expected time of arrival) of USBP (US Border Patrol) and the delayed response to UDA (undocumented aliens.)

“Major, as you can see from this e-mail, Area 6 is having a significant problem with pedestrian UDAs. My thoughts are as follows:

If, in the course of their duties, officers are dispatched or come across individuals either flagging traffic down or walking along the interstate and they seem distressed or unprepared to face the extreme heat of the desert, I would prefer they be transported to an area where water, shade, etc. is readily accessible/available if USBP cannot respond or has a lengthy/delayed response.”

Another police e-mail in 2020 states:

“Our situation with UDA's is unique here in Area 6. We have been getting a high volume of calls lately for pedestrians and or UDA's in the area if the Maricopa-Pinal County line. Some days we will get as many as 6-7 calls a day. I know our policy is we do not detain and transport UDA's to BP but here is our problem:

Most of the time BP's response is from Why or they don't have anyone available. If they are able to respond from Why their ETA could be 1 1/2 hours or more. Now that the temperature is over 110 I am not comfortable with just checking on them, advising BP and leaving them out there. On the other hand, we simply do not have the manpower to sit and wait for BP.

I suppose what I asking for is some guidance and clarification, can we transport them to BP when they basically give up or do we check welfare and if they are not in need of EMS just leave them out there?

My thoughts are if they seek us out we should assist them and not leave them stranded 15-25 miles from water and food.

Our actions need to pass the headline test but more importantly we need to treat them humanely. Please advise as soon as possible as this is a daily occurrence.”

In another police e-mail in 2010:

“I concur with both of your thoughts on how to manage this problem. If we have a distressed pedestrian, regardless of origin, we have a humanitarian responsibility to act for their safety. And if that requires that we transport them to a Border Patrol checkpoint or facility or to another location where we can remove them from the heat, I believe we will meet both the headline and humanity tests.

In situations where BP will not respond or has an extreme extended eta , I see no problem with transporting them to the check-point or the nearest BP station if the situation requires it. We would transport any other citizen in need to the nearest place of refuge, so I think we should do the same in these circumstances.”

On a separate issue, a police officer in Tucson states he is tired of the lies of Border Patrol regarding high speed chases:

"Sir, we are continuing to have issues with Border Patrol and it is getting to the point where I feel you need to get involved in this. We had another issue the other night with a collision. It occurred on 2/12/09 on I-19 at Kilometer 63 NB. Apparently a BP agent tried to stop a vehicle for an immigration check and the vehicle fled at a high rate of speed. The BP agents could not keep up but kept their lights activated and continued to follow the vehicle at quite a distance. The vehicle continued to KM 63 where it passed a PCSO deputy in the median. The Deputy saw the emergency lights approaching and just thought someone was running code 3 to something, but then the truck passed his location at a high speed. The Deputy pulled out and turned on his lights to try to stop the fleeing truck. The truck exited the interstate at KM 63, ran the stop sign at the base and rolled over, ejecting the driver. PCSO never caught up to the vehicle so no pursuit and BP was too far back to be pursuing the truck, so no major issues with this. We responded for the collision. By the time we got there, BP supervisor was already on scene talking to his guys. The statement given to our officer was that they were following the truck at a distance, but did not have their lights on. This is a LIE. There is no issue with this "chase", yet BP has really gotten into the role of lying to us. My guys, and I, are getting tired of this and are getting to the point where we want to start writing them for false information, especially when we have witnesses that contradict their statements. I don't want it to come to this. Can you please talk to your counterpart over at BP and see if this can be stopped."

Human rights organizations in Tucson and on the Tohono O’odham Nation have exposed both these issues. They have also pressed for increased investigations, prosecutions and convictions of Border Patrol agents involved in crimes along the US/Mexico border.

The Arizona police data released by hackers includes a report on the testimony in Washington regarding Border Patrol agents charged in corruption cases.

On June 9, Alan Bersin, commissioner of Customs and Border Patrol, testified before the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Subcommittee on Disaster Recovery and Intergovernmental Affairs.

Bersin said, “Since 2004 in October, 127 CBP personnel have been arrested, charged or convicted of corruption.”

Charles Edwards, the acting Inspector General for the Dept. of Homeland Security, testified before the committee that there are 267 active corruption-related investigations underway of Customs and Border Patrol personnel.

The hacked e-mails were exposed during three releases of data during June of 2011, labeled “Chinga La Migra,” by Antisec, Anonymous and Lulzsec.


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