When it comes to the U.S. government, no one should confuse agency size for the likelihood of accountability. For example, U.S. Border Patrol is the Department of Homeland Security’s largest federal law enforcement agency, yet has operated with little oversight and almost complete impunity. Nearly a century old, Border Patrol was created under the Department of Labor in 1924 to enforce xenophobic laws. Rooted in systemic oppression, the agency has fostered a culture of brutality amongst its agents since its inception. It needs to be abolished.
History of Border Patrol
…the true number of those who have disappeared crossing the U.S.-Mexico border will never truly be known.
Intentionally ignoring the consequences of U.S. intervention, Border Patrol continued and continues to operate in a political vacuum that deems ongoing presence in the borderlands and the development of for-profit detention centers justifiable and —most problematically— necessary. CoreCivic (formally known as Corrections Corporation of America – CCA) was founded in 1983 and entered its first contract with Immigration and Naturalization Services (INS) in Houston to run the first private detention center that same year. The culture of cruelty in which Border Patrol has existed has expanded to for-profit detention centers, migration policies, and militarization of the borderlands. Border Patrol is rooted in xenophobic policies and continues to dehumanize people while profiting off of those with the need to travel North for economic or political reasons.
Prevention Through Deterrence
Border Patrol, COVID-19, and Black Lives Matter Protests
“‘The disease doesn’t know age,’ Acting CBP Commissioner Mark Morgan told reporters. ‘When [minors] come across the border, they pose an absolute, concrete public health risk to this country and everybody they come in contact with.’” New immigration rules implemented on March 21, 2020 under the guise of the global health pandemic have led to Border Patrol expelling and detaining over 10,000 Mexican and Central American asylum seekers without the ability to exercise their right to seek refuge and asylum. Under the Trump administration, decades of work to protect migrant and refugee rights have been undone as Border Patrol operates with unlimited and unchecked power, essentially functioning as a paramilitary organization continuously violating human and civil rights.
On May 31st, Morgan announced via Twitter, “CBP is currently deploying officers, agents and aviation assets across the country at the request of our federal, state and local partners confronting the lawless actions of rioters. CBP carries out its mission nationwide, not just at the border, consistent with federal laws.” By June 1st, Border Patrol was also present in DC, Buffalo, Chicago, Detroit, El Paso, Miami, and San Diego. American Civil Liberties Union’s senior legislative counsel Neema Singh Guliani responded: “this rogue agency’s use of military technology to surveil protesters inside U.S. borders is deeply disturbing, especially given CBP’s lack of clear and strong policies to protect privacy and constitutional rights….This agency’s use of drones over the city should be halted immediately.”