Earlier this week, a border patrol agent was arrested on four counts of murder after a fifth potential victim escaped his grasp and reported him to a state trooper. This arrest led to a voluntary confession by Juan David Ortiz to the killing of four female sex workers, in which Ortiz showed no sense of remorse for his actions. Ortiz is a 10-year border patrol veteran, a fact that should be seriously considered. For years, border patrol agents haven’t been held accountable for cruel acts against humanity, and Ortiz’s crimes should be a harsh reminder of how important accountability is.
Unfortunately, inhumane behavior isn’t anything new among border patrol agents. Agents have become known as “green monsters,” a term originating from the agents’ dark green uniforms. But the name itself comes from their actions more than their appearances. Border patrol agents are supposed to protect us, but they instead have become figures of fear, intimidation and violence.
This past January, agents were found to be kicking over water bottles left for migrants on the harsh journey into the United States. A Chief border patrol agent attempted to justify the separation of children from their parents at the border by deeming some of them as hardened adults. Jenn Budd, a former border patrol agent who worked with the agency from 1995 to 2001, even told The Huffington Post this past June that the traumatic separations the agency is currently putting migrant children through will kill them.
But the history of violence from border agents goes further back than just these recent tumultuous years. From 2005 to 2012, more than 2,000 U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents were arrested on acts of misconduct which occurred near the border, ranging from drunk driving to domestic violence. But misconduct allegations aren’t the only charges that border patrol agents have been accused of. In the Laredo, Texas section of the border alone, four border patrol agents have been arrested on murder charges this past year, with the victims ranging from migrant women to the agents’ own children.
Our own president claims that the countries which migrants come from are bringing in rapists and gang members, but these refugees are being greeted by those same types of criminals at the border. Abuse among the border patrol agency has become so common that the U.S. government has paid over $60 million to cover up claims against the agency. The aforementioned claims include paying off families of victims killed by border patrol agents, injuries as a result of reckless driving and wrongful deportations.
No matter your legal status, you are not safe from the violence that this agency induces. Even worse, the lack of transparency on wrongful deportations means that there is no way of telling exactly how many people are wrongfully deported each year.
It is so easy for us to ignore the horrors going on at the border every day because of our physical distance from the problem. Too often we disassociate ourselves from these issues, something that is very easy to do when the government is also directly ignoring complaints against the agency. But the truth of the matter is that violence from border patrol agents goes beyond your legal status. The longer we ignore this issue, the closer we get to forgetting the victims of these heinous crimes. And until there is some sort of limit placed on the abusive power these agents hold, none of us should consider ourselves safe within our borders.
Opinions expressed on the editorial pages are not necessarily those of WSN, and our publication of opinions is not an endorsement of them.
Email Melanie Pineda at [email protected]