JULY 02, 2007
Although violent assaults on U.S. Border Patrol agents is on the rise and drug smuggling from Mexico has doubled, agents say they are increasingly discouraged from using force against illegal immigrants because colleagues have been criminally prosecuted for doing so.
The agency guarding the country from the daily influx of illegal immigrants at the southern border, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, reports that the crossers have become more violent and the frequency of the attacks has also increased. More illegal immigrants have weapons, throw big rocks and even Molotov cocktails – makeshift bombs made of a breakable container filled with flammable liquid.
Sophisticated and heavily armed Mexican drug cartels have also smuggled about twice as much cocaine through the southern border this year than last year. The escalating violence seems to justify the unprecedented force being used by Border Patrol agents charged with keeping the country secure.
But several officers – including two serving 11 and 12-year jail sentences for shooting an admitted Mexican drug dealer smuggling a cargo through El Paso–have been criminally prosecuted for using force. The latest agent to be charged shot an illegal immigrant who was about to attack him with a rock in southeastern Arizona.
The key prosecution witnesses in the Cochise County case are illegal aliens, coached by the Mexican government before U.S. authorities even spoke to them, who were traveling with the shot man. The Border Patrol agent, Nicholas Corbett, has been charged with murder and his trial is expected to begin around August.
These types of cases are scaring agents in the line of fire from using force when necessary. This is dangerous, according to the vice president of the Arizona Border Patrol agents union, who says
that the less likely agents are to use force, the more likely illegal aliens are to use it.
Fed up with the toll that illegal immigrants have taken on their state, Arizona residents overwhelmingly support the accused agent. A few years ago, residents and state lawmakers launched a campaign to curtail illegal immigration by passing some of the country’s toughest anti-illegal immigrant legislation and even creating homemade street signs telling day laborers to keep moving.
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