Monday, January 30, 2006

Illegal Force Routinely Used Against Mexican Immigrants

Apparently the US routinely violates its diplomatic agreements with Mexico and international law with lethal consequences for the migrants so often vilified in our country. Excerpts from the report:
Guillermo Martinez was only 20 years old when he was shot in the back at close range by an agent of the U.S. Border Patrol in the state of California.

Scores of migrants have been shot by U.S. immigration enforcement officers. Mexican human rights organizations count four cases just in the past six months and warn that the number is on the rise. Most fail to make the headlines. But Martinez's death comes at the same time as a series of measures to further criminalize migrants, measures that are likely to increase the chances that more young men and women lose their lives on what has become the world's most contradictory border...

As immigration mounts, so do the deaths. The Border Patrol seems to view Martinez's death as a cautionary tale for other undocumented workers rather than a red flag on its own practices. In statements to the press, the San Diego region boasted that its members are routinely equipped with expanding-bullet weapons. These are more lethal and more painful than conventional firearms, thus explaining how a man shot in the shoulder could be dead two hours later. The use of firearms against migrants is prohibited under binational agreements and the use of expanding bullets has been banned in international pacts.

Source: [Laura Carlsen, "Bad Blood on the Border," (Silver City, NM: International Relations Center, January 30, 2006)]

While I'm on the topic of border control, consider some more general aspects of the issue. I suppose a society has a legitimate right to bar outsiders from entering their nation, however I can think of no ethical justification for doing so (outside of very limited circumstances such as hostile spies, etc). Suppose people of a country with lower living standards flood another nation to improve their lives and thereby drag down the quality of life in their new homeland (a hypothetical situation - I'll put aside the question of its applicability to the US) because of an unsustainable population boom. The phenomenon would tend to equalize living standards for the populations of the two nations - and there can be no moral justification for preserving one's material wealth at the expense of others. When the more affluent country (and more specifically the elites of both countries, as in the case of the US and Mexico) bears considerable responsibility for the economic plight of the poorer nation the moral responsibility heightens.


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