SBCC: CBP Reforms On The Right Track But Implementation Is Key

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SOUTHERN BORDER REGION: Today, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Commissioner Gil Kerlikowske announced that the agency will be implementing a unified, formal review process for use of force incidents.  The Secretary of Homeland Security, Jeh Johnson, also announced a new delegation of criminal misconduct investigative authority to CBP in order for the agency to hold its own personnel accountable.

The latest developments are welcome news to southern border communities who have long advocated for transparency, accountability, and effective oversight over the nation's largest law-enforcement agency.

This renewed commitment from Commissioner Kerlikowske for transparency is a step towards building trust. However, the nation's largest law enforcement agency which has been plagued with abusive behavior and a history of impunity, has a long way to go to build and gain confidence from civil society. Since 2010, CBP officers have killed at least 29 people as a result of use-of-force incidents, and yet not a single officers involved in these deadly incidents has been disciplined.

Christian Ramirez, Director of the Southern Border Communities Coalition and Human Rights Director at Alliance San Diego:

"Trust is a two-way street, southern border communities are pleased with today's announcement from CBP. We are closer now than ever towards ensuring accountability and oversight over the nation's largest law-enforcement agency. However, CBP must do more to gain the confidence of tens of millions of people who call the border home. The effective participation of civil society groups in any advisory panel is indispensable for reforms to be meaningful."

Juanita Molina, Director of the Border Action Network, Arizona:

"Let's not forget the affected communities and the lives damaged and lost as a result of agent misconduct and excessive force. Assigning criminal misconduct investigative authority to CBP does not go far enough to guarantee meaningful oversight over an agency that has a culture of impunity and violence."

Brian Erickson, Policy Advocate of the Regional Center for Border Rights at the ACLU of New Mexico:

"CBP's recent steps to begin embracing best practices are welcome and long-overdue reforms. It's high time for the agency to fall in line with best policing practices by implementing body-worn cameras paired with adequate privacy protections. More and more local police and experts agree, these cameras protect both civil society and police from abuse or false accusations."

Astrid Dominguez, Advocacy Coordinator ACLU of Texas:

"As our nation discusses the effects of excessive use-of-force in our communities, it is imperative that Customs and Border Protection is up to par with modern day law-enforcement best practices. With today's announcement CBP is closer to becoming a professional police force, but only time and effective implementation of these policies will tell."

The Southern Border Communities Coalition (SBCC) brings together more than 60 organizations from San Diego, California, to Brownsville, Texas, to ensure that border enforcement policies and practices are accountable and fair, respect human dignity and human rights, and prevent the loss of life in the region.

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