When Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano visited the U.S./Mexico border at Texas last week, it was to assure people that the border is safe, thanks to the deployment of armed troops. Safety is relative however, and it seems is dependent on who you are, meaning your ethnicity and the perception of your legal status. Just ask the family of Carlos de la Madrid, a U.S. citizen who was shot in the back by U.S. Border Patrol while climbing a fence into Mexico. What happened echoes other shootings of young men at the border by Border Patrol, with reports of rocks being thrown being met with bullets. The video report below is valuable for the interviews with the widow of de la Madrid and an activist from Border Action Network, who point out the Border Patrol’s policy of shooting to kill and the often used justification for such action, illegal activity such as drugs.
While legislatively speaking, there is evidence of Arizona moving away from SB1070 type laws, policy wise, Arizona continues to use the threat of and actual violence. This week Maricopa County Sheriff Arpaio announced “Operation Desert Sky”, a weeks long operation that puts 30 pilots into the air and put everyone at risk by arming vigilantes with M-16s and machine guns.
Salvador Reza of the Puente Movement commented, “With years of evidence piling up against this Sheriff, it is unconscionable that President Obama and the Department of Justice choose to be part of Arpaio’s coalition of the willing. At this point, there is little to point toward that would keep one from concluding that Arpaio is acting with the blessing of the Obama Administration in his pursuits.”
Obama’s comments earlier this week, expressing his hopes for immigration reform while continuing to expand programs that promote mass deportation combined with more death and weapons aimed at Latinos on the border make current immigration policy clear and whose safety is being prioritized.