Members from a binational ministry group held a prayer vigil at the Douglas Port of Entry in Arizona last week to remember 32-year-old Carmelo Cruz Marcos, who last month became the latest migrant to die at the hands of Border Patrol. Cruz Marcos, a dad of three, was shot and killed Feb. 19.
Arizona Daily Star reports that his family, in Puebla, Mexico, tearfully watched Frontera de Cristo’s vigil through a virtual call. “I want justice,” his mother said in the report. “My heart hurts for what they did to my son. My grandchildren are suffering. My son was going to seek a better life for his children.”
Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials revealed little information immediately following Cruz Marcos’ killing, including what led to it, other than confirming it was conducting an investigation into his death. His autopsy report has since revealed that he was shot four times, including twice in the face. “The manner of death is homicide,” the report said.
The Cochise County sheriff’s office has also since claimed that the unnamed border agent shot and killed Cruz Marcos after “picking up a large rock and turning back towards the agent, making a throwing motion with the hand that held the rock,” The Herald Review reports. “Assuming the agent's account is accurate, why lethal force? Why ‘multiple’?” questioned Washington Office on Latin America Defense Oversight Program’s Adam Isacson. And why twice in the face, according to the autopsy report?
Border Patrol had in 2018 also initially claimed that 20-year-old Claudia Patricia Gómez González was shot and killed because she tried to attack an agent with a “blunt” object. That claim by officials turned out to be a complete lie. A witness said that Gómez González never rushed anybody. "The girl was in the grass and trees; to me, she was hiding,” the witness said.
It must be noted that later that same year, the insurrectionist president encouraged shooting migrants for throwing imaginary rocks.“’They want to throw rocks at our military, our military fights back,’ Trump blustered,” Daily Kos’ Laura Clawson wrote at the time. “’We’re going to consider—and I told them, consider it a rifle.’ Except a rock isn’t a rifle … and people arriving to ask for legal asylum aren’t likely to throw rocks, especially when many of them have their young children with them.”
Advocates have additionally expressed deep concern about the integrity of the probe into Cruz Marcos’ killing.
“There are multiple red flags in this investigation,” the Southern Border Communities Coalition (SBCC) said, noting the Cochise County sheriff’s office didn’t recover his body until the next day. “The Cochise County Sheriff’s Office is leading the investigation into Cruz’s death,” Arizona Daily Star reported. SBCC also raised concerns about any involvement of Border Patrol’s shadow units that have for years worked to cover up abuses by border agents.
Arizona Daily Star reported that the Consulate of Mexico in Douglas has been in contact with Cruz Marcos’ family, including a sister who lives in Arizona, and will pay to have his body returned to Mexico. The consulate is also working to help the family secure pro-bono representation.
Arizona Daily Star reported Frontera de Cristo during the vigil also remembered other migrants who’ve died while attempting to cross the harsh southern borderlands. “Since January 2010, at least 200 people have died as the result of an encounter with a CBP agent,” SBCC said. Frontera de Cristo member Mark Adams said “justice has a broader meaning that includes finding a way to end the human tragedy of so many dying in the desert,” Arizona Daily Star reported.
“The realities of immigration and the way we’ve responded don’t facilitate understanding between nations,” he said in the report. “We’ve made a death sentence for some to go and do drywall or pick our fruit or work on our golf courses.”
RELATED: Advocates express worry about integrity of probe following recent killing by Border Patrol agent