Border Patrol Gets a New Boss in Effort to Fight Agency's Abuse, Corruption

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Members of People Helping People in the Border Zone stationed at a Border Patrol checkpoint on Arizona Highway 286, about 26 miles from the U.S.-Mexico border at Sasabe. The group is in an ongoing campaign to oversee checkpoint activity, document possible civil rights violations and ultimately shut down interior checkpoints. - MARIA INÉS TARACENA
  • Maria Inés Taracena
  • Members of People Helping People in the Border Zone stationed at a Border Patrol checkpoint on Arizona Highway 286, about 26 miles from the U.S.-Mexico border at Sasabe. The group is in an ongoing campaign to oversee checkpoint activity, document possible civil rights violations and ultimately shut down interior checkpoints.

In an effort to suppress ongoing Border Patrol abuse and corruption, the federal immigration agency has a new boss: Mark Morgan, a senior FBI official who leads the bureau's training division. It will be the first time in 92 years that an "outsider" heads the troubled Border Patrol, according to an article on the Los Angeles Times.

As the article says, Morgan is inheriting an agency accused of not doing much to fight corruption by drug cartels and human smugglers, as well as downplaying fatal shootings of unarmed people, including 16-year-old boy José Antonio Elena Rodríguez, who was killed in October 2012 in a crossborder shooting in Ambos Nogales, where Border Patrol agent Lonnie Ray Swartz shot José Antonio 10 times through the border fence. José Antonio collapsed on a sidewalk in Calle Internacional in Nogales, Sonora. He died of fatal wounds to the head, lungs and arteries. Swartz's trial for second-degree murder begins Nov. 7. Border agents allege José Antonio was throwing rocks in their direction. 

There have also been several lawsuits against Border Patrol over racially profiling people of color  driving through checkpoints

Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection R. Gil Kerlikowske, who appointed Morgan to lead Border Patrol, said in a statement that Morgan has "strong law enforcement and leadership credentials," according to the LA Times article.

The Border Patrol union wasn't as happy, saying Kerlikowske ignored viable candidates within the agency, such as Ronald D. Vitiello, a Border Patrol veteran who has served as acting chief, the LA Times article reports. 

"How can someone who has never made an immigration arrest in his career expect to lead an agency whose primary duty is to make immigration arrests? said Joshua Wilson, a spokesman for the Border Patrol union's chapter in San Diego, according to the LA Times article.

Good luck, Morgan. 

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