Posted 10:00 AM 7/24/2012 : Activist group blasts Border Patrol for abuse
TUCSON - The border activist group known as "No More Deaths" is blasting the U.S. Border Patrol and they're using the media to do it.
A recently aired PBS special called "Crossing the Line at the Border" showed a number of different stories of abuse and neglect. Now this group is using it as a weapon against the Border Patrol hoping to force some changes.
No More Deaths has been advocating against border abuse for years. They claim to have thousands of documented cases but they say the story done on PBS really ramps up the issue because people nationwide can actually see some examples of abuse.
John Fife is retired pastor and volunteer for No More Deaths. He said, "This is our unfortunate, devastating experience on a daily basis, but now the whole nation gets to see what we've been seeing for years."
It includes a little bit of everything: extreme overcrowding, physical abuse, mental abuse, refusing basic medical needs, even sexual assault.
One clip in the segment is of a woman describing her encounter with a border agent. She said, "He put his hand up her blouse and started touching her."
It was one of several eyewitness stories. Hers was never substantiated. Volunteers with No More Deaths said it's likely because she was too afraid to speak up or file a report.
But not everything needs to be confirmed.
Danielle Alvarado with No More Deaths said, "When you see it it's different than reading about it. It's different than hearing from someone else that they saw it."
The PBS segment provides visual evidence they're hoping leads to some changes, mainly some independent oversight along the border.
Fife said, "It's time to end the denial and it's time to start appropriate actions so Border Patrol lives up to its own standards."
Border Patrol would not go on camera with us but did release this statement, "CBP stresses honor and integrity in every aspect of our mission. CBP employees and officers perform their duties with honor and distinction, working tirelessly every day to keep our country safe. We do not tolerate abuse within our ranks, and we fully cooperate with any criminal or administrative investigations of alleged misconduct by any of our personnel, on or off duty."
No More Deaths will give its demands to the Border Patrol right away and said if it's implemented it could make a huge difference and in a hurry. Whether or not Border Patrol does anything about it is something we'll just have to wait on.
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