Mexico protests new shooting on border

From the New York Times, Jan. 18:

BISBEE, Ariz. — A Mexican immigrant was shot and killed on Friday by a Border Patrol agent in Arizona, prompting an investigation by federal authorities and condemnation from President Felipe Calderón of Mexico.

The immigrant, Francisco Javier Domínguez Rivera, 22, was shot as he and six others were being taken into custody by a Border Patrol agent, shortly after they crossed illegally into Cochise County in southeastern Arizona, between Naco and Douglas. Before he was shot, Mr. Domínguez Rivera scuffled with the agent, whose identity was not released, a Border Patrol spokesman said.

It was the first fatal shooting by a Border Patrol agent since Aug. 26, 2006, when an agent killed a man who was throwing rocks from the Mexican side of the border near Andrade, Calif., Xavier Rios, an agency spokesman, said.

The Cochise County Sheriff’s Department and the federal Department of Homeland Security, the parent agency of United States Customs and Border Protection, are investigating the shooting.

The F.B.I. is also looking at the case and will review the results of the other inquiries before determining whether to expand its investigation, said an agency spokeswoman in Phoenix.

“Any time there’s an assault on a federal agent, we’re involved,” Deborah McCarley, the Federal Bureau of Investigation spokeswoman, said. “As we go along, if information surfaces that there’s been a civil rights violation, then we obviously would take a look at that.”

Lt. Cmdr. Mark Dannels, a sheriff’s department spokesman, said the shooting was prompted by stone throwing. A Border Patrol statement called it a scuffle but did not mention stone throwing.

Also, the two agencies’ descriptions of where the shooting occurred differed by several miles.

Initial reports suggested that Mr. Domínguez Rivera was unarmed, Jesus Rodriguez, a spokesman for the Border Patrol in Tucson, said. Officials would not be able to say for certain until the investigation was completed, Mr. Rodriguez said.

President Calderón, who took office in December, said at a news conference on Sunday, “I want to begin by extending my deepest condolences, and then my most energetic protest over the death of our countryman, a native of Puebla, who died in Arizona from a gunshot after having been detained by the U.S. Border Patrol.”

The Mexican Ministry of Foreign Relations sent a formal note to the State Department expressing “its serious concern over the recurrence of this type of incident.”

At a news conference on Wednesday, Tom Casey, a State Department deputy spokesman said, “My understanding is we have received a diplomatic note from the government of Mexico on this incident.”

Any response would depend on the outcome of the federal inquiries, Mr. Casey said.

See our last posts on border militarization and the immigration crackdown.

  1. Further details…
    From Immigration News Briefs, Feb. 4:

    On Jan. 12, a Border Patrol agent shot and killed Francisco Javier Dominguez Rivera, a construction worker from the southern Mexican state of Puebla, after he allegedly resisted arrest near the border between Bisbee and Douglas, Arizona. Dominguez was with six other people trying to cross the border into the US when they were stopped by the Border Patrol; the group included two of his brothers and a sister-in-law, now being held as witnesses in the case. The Cochise County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the incident as an officer-related shooting; the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) also says it is investigating. The agent who shot Dominguez has been placed on paid administrative leave. The Mexican government has formally demanded a full investigation, and Derechos Humanos, an immigrant rights organization in Tucson, is calling for an independent investigation based on its lack of confidence in the Cochise County Sheriff’s Office and FBI investigators. (Arizona Daily Star, Tucson, Jan. 14, 18; AP, Jan. 23)

    At least 66 of the workers arrested at Swift’s Greeley plant were shipped to an ICE jail in El Paso, Texas. Within a few days of the raid, Judge Kane ordered ICE to bring the detainees back to Colorado, and ICE officials told union lawyers they were complying. But court papers filed Jan. 5 revealed that only five detainees were sent back to Colorado, while 61 remain in Texas. (Denver Daily News, Dec. 19; Rocky Mountain News, Dec. 16, Jan. 6; Greeley Tribune, Jan. 12)

    See our last post on the immigration crackdown and the Swift raids.