Mexico has issued the U.S. government what amounts to a diplomatic threat for exonerating a Border Patrol agent who shot an illegal immigrant near the Texas border nearly two years ago after being assaulted with rocks.
The shooting occurred in the summer of 2010 when the federal agent, Jesus Mesa, spotted a group of Mexicans crossing the Rio Grande near El Paso. U.S. authorities say Mesa fatally shot a teen (Sergio Hernández-Guereca) traveling with the group in self-defense after the teen and his friends threw rocks at the agent.
Last year a Texas judge dismissed a wrongful death lawsuit against the U.S. government but allowed a lawsuit against the agent to proceed. The Obama Department of Justice (DOJ) has spent the last two years conducting a “comprehensive and thorough investigation into the shooting” in an effort to file federal criminal charges against the Border Patrol agent.
But a few days ago the DOJ conceded that there is “insufficient evidence” to pursue federal criminal charges against Mesa. “The U.S. government regrets the loss of life in this matter, and the Civil Rights Division, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Texas, the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security devoted significant time and resources into conducting a thorough and complete investigation,” the DOJ says in a statement.
The lengthy probe was conducted by an army of federal officers from the FBI, Homeland Security Inspector General and top prosecutors from the DOJ’s bloated Civil Rights Division. They interviewed dozens of law enforcement and civilian witnesses and collected, analyzed and reviewed evidence from the scene of the shooting. This included civilian and surveillance video, police radio traffic, emergency recordings and volumes of Border Patrol agent training and use of force material.
Agent Mesa’s training, disciplinary records and personal history were also scrutinized. The team of experienced DOJ prosecutors examined the shooting as a possible violation of U.S. criminal and civil rights laws, but the incident did not meet the standard. Evidence indicated that the “agent’s actions constituted a reasonable use of force or would constitute an act of self-defense in response to the threat created by a group of smugglers hurling rocks at the agent…” the feds concluded.
They further determined that no federal civil rights charges could be pursued in this matter since applicable statutes require prosecutors to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that a law enforcement officer willfully deprived an individual of a constitutional right. That means with the deliberate and specific intent to do something the law forbids. Again, after a thorough review, the experienced federal prosecutors and FBI agents concluded that the evidence was insufficient.
The decision has been met with anger among Mexican government officials who have threatened to launch an international investigation. The Spanish-language news media presented the story as the exoneration of the American agent who assassinated a Mexican youth. In a diplomatic note from its secretary of foreign relations, Mexico’s government chastised the DOJ’s decision not to criminally charge the Border Patrol agent.
Mexico has also threatened to conduct its own investigation into the DOJ’s handling of the case and has warned the U.S. to assure that Mexicans’ fundamental rights are being respected. The teen’s family, which lives in Mexico, has sued Agent Mesa despite the DOJ’s decision not to criminally charge him.
The Obama Justice Department is going after a San Diego-based U.S. Border Patrol agent for supposedly “kneeing and choking” an “unidentified alien” during a shift near the Mexican border over the summer.
Specifically, the feds are charging the agent, Luis Fonseca, for depriving the rights of the mystery illegal immigrant at the Border Patrol station in Imperial Beach California last July. Based on the Department of Justice’s account, a federal grand jury indicted Fonseca on a single charge of deprivation of rights under color of law. The charge, a civil rights violation, carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in jail.
The case is problematic for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is the government’s secrecy surrounding details. In the one-page indictment the illegal immigrant is identified only as “UA#1.” The document also claims that, as a result of the use of “unreasonable force” the undocumented alien sustained some kind of “bodily injury” yet no further details are provided.
Additionally, the grand jury indictment is dated April 12, 2012 which means the feds dragged their feet, probably because they knew it was a weak case. Fonseca was arrested on Friday during a shift at the Border Patrol’s Imperial Beach station and is currently on paid leave. He pleaded not guilty in federal court this week.
Here is why the DOJ is going after the particular agent, according to the federal prosecutor handling the case: “People detained at the border should be treated with human dignity and respect by federal agents. It is important for the public to know that the Department of Justice takes alleged civil rights violations seriously. We have processes in place to investigate and will take action where appropriate to protect those rights.”
Now the Department of Homeland Security Office of the Inspector General is investigating the matter. Perhaps when that report is finished, more information will be revealed to the public. For instance, the “victim’s” identity and the exact “bodily injury” that he or she supposedly suffered at the hands of the Border Patrol agent accused of committing the choking and kneeing.
The U.S. government has worked hard to protect illegal immigrants and their “constitutional” rights in the last few years. This has empowered them to file a number of lawsuits against local and federal law enforcement agencies for violating their rights. In Connecticut a group of illegal aliens sued the government for violating their constitutional rights during the operation that led to their apprehension.
In New York an illegal immigrant with a lengthy criminal record got a $145,000 settlement from the state for having his civil rights violated during one of his many arrests. In Maryland an illegal immigrant from El Salvador sued the sheriff’s department for unlawfully and unconstitutionally detaining her based on race and in California illegal aliens sued a city for banning them from seeking work on public streets.
In the latest of many scandals to rock a Homeland Security agency charged with protecting the Mexican border, a federal agent in southern California has been arrested for hiding illegal immigrants and drugs in a secret underground bunker at his home.The U.S. Border Patrol agent, Marcos Gerardo Manzano Jr., evidently operated an illicit business from his San Diego-area house because authorities discovered theunderground room in his yard this week. In it were illegal immigrants, 61 grams of methamphetamine and drug packaging paraphernalia. Federal prosecutors say the corrupt agent built the hidden chamber beneath a concrete slap in a backyard patio to hide narcotics and illegal immigrants.Among the illegal aliens living in the agent’s home is a twice-deported felon who happens to be his dad (apple doesn’t fall far from the tree; chip off the old block).The elder Manzano is currently a fugitive with a drug conviction. He has been deported twice to his native Mexico and junior has repeatedly lied to federal authorities by claiming he’s had no contact with pops.It turns out that senior had been hiding out at junior’s home, in a working class San Ysidro neighborhood, for well over a year. A special FBI taskforce created to weed out growing corruption among federal border agents finally busted Manzano and charged him with harboring illegal aliens and lying to federal investigators. There are serious concerns about bail since the disgraced federal agent travels regularly toMexico to visit his girlfriend and family and could easily flee if he’s released.This simply marks the latest of numerous cases involving border agents on the take. In the last few years a number of Homeland Security officers—from Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the U.S. Border Patrol—have been criminally charged for taking bribes to help illegal immigrants and drugs enter the U.S. Investigations are pending against hundreds of others and strict background checks have been implemented in an effort to better screen candidates.Among the government’s most embarrassing case is a Border Patrol agent named Oscar Ortiz who admitted smuggling 100 illegal immigrants into the country in his government vehicle. The punch line is that Ortiz is himself an illegal immigrant who used a false birth certificate to get his government job. Once he got sworn in, Ortiz charged Mexicans $300 to $2,000 a pop to sneak them in through a crossing near Tecate.