February 28, 2003

Commentary

Border Patrol executes a Mexican near a refugee for immigrants

Monday February 24, 2003 -- On Saturday February 22, 2003, an unarmed immigrant, Juan Patricio Peraza Guijada, 19 years old from Mexicali, Baja California, was killed by a Border Patrol officer in plain daylight a few meters from Casa Anunciación, a shelter for refugees in El Paso, Texas. The incident occurred at about 9 a.m. while officers were patrolling the area adjacent to Casa Anunciación looking for immigrants.

Although the Border Patrol has informed that the officer shoot the immigrant in self-defense, many witnesses have declared that the victim never posed any threat to the Border Patrol officers. In a statement released a few hours of the incident, the authorities have argued that the immigrant attacked the officers with a metal pipe and therefore the officer had to fire his weapon. The statement also mentioned that only two officers participated in the incident. Many persons, including a member of the Board of Directors of Sin Fronteras, saw what happened and presented a different recount of the incident. According to the witness, the immigrant never made a hostile move against the officers, but was walking in the opposite direction to avoid being arrested, when one of the officers shouted him to stop, he stops and turn to face the officer and is shot twice in the chest.

Additionally, they saw more than two officers in the scene. One witness declared that as many as 7 agents and 3 Border Patrol vehicles were present. Minutes after the incident, several of the witnesses were interviewed by Border Patrol officers and some of them received threats. Some of the witness who live nearby are afraid to come out and declare what exactly happened.

I like to note that more than 10 years ago, the Border Patrol made a promised not to patrol or raid the vicinity of Casa Anunciación or any of the shelters in El Paso, for the safety of the refugees and immigrants using these facilities. This act signifies that the Border Patrol has started to hunt immigrants in the streets of downtown El Paso.

We will keep you informed about this serious crime that ads to the violence we have been facing in the border since 911.

Carlos Marentes
Border Agricultural Workers Project
6412 Edgemere, Apt. P-8
El Paso, Texas 79925
marentes@farmworkers.org

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