5 links from the past week
- I’m growing ever more obsessed with the institutional culture at U.S. border security agencies, and last week gave me some important new inputs. At the Intercept, Ryan Deveraux summarized affidavits signed by three former DHS whistleblowers, which detail how Border Patrol and Department leadership frustrated an investigation into the 2010 beating death of Mexican citizen Anastasio Hernández. Kate Morrissey also covered this well at the San Diego Union-Tribune. The oversight picture grows even darker with this Ken Klippenstein exposé, also at the Intercept, about how insane infighting at the DHS Office of the Inspector-General crippled oversight of the agency when it was most needed, during the darkest period of the Trump administration.
- Two Arizona humanitarian organizations, No More Deaths and the Coalición de Derechos Humanos, published a report alleging that while Border Patrol has all but monopolized emergency response in the border zone, the agency has a poor record of responding to calls for rescue from lost migrants dying in the desert.
- Mexico’s Animal Político published a disturbing revelation about the Mexican government’s response to abuse of migrants. The country’s nominally independent human rights ombudsman’s office, the Comisión Nacional de Derechos Humanos (CNDH), had collected 32 documents’ worth of accounts of horrific abuses of migrants traveling through Mexico—some of them with the participation of security and immigration forces. But the CNDH, which is supposed to advocate for victims and seek to hold abusers accountable, sat on this information.
- As the Biden administration stands down on border wall construction, get ready for more discussion of building a high-tech “smart wall.” We’re starting to see some smart discussion of the risks of installing more sensors, cameras, drones, biometric data collectors, and the like, and giving them to our troubled border agencies. This Truthout analysis by Candice Bernd is an excellent place to start. A key quote, from Jacinta González, an organizer at Mijente: “What we’ve seen over and over again is, a lot of these companies, they start to create new technologies for war zones, they bring them to a militarized border, and then they start to use them across the U.S. We then start to see these technologies normalized and brought to local police departments.”
- It’s always revelatory when InsightCrime profiles a previously unknown person who turns out to be a crucial node on the network of Latin American organized crime. You’d expect the mayor of a Guatemalan town that borders both El Salvador and the Pacific—the very definition of “trafficking corridor”—to be compromised, and Carlos Roberto Marroquín Fuentes, the mayor of Moyuta, very much is. InsightCrime also published their annual “homicide roundup” this week, and while I wish they didn’t have to, this is still the only resource where you can easily find this piece of violent-crime data for the whole region.