Most U.S. voters do not trust U.S. border agents, and believe that independent prosecutors are needed to review cases involving agent abuses, new polling shows. The U.S. Immigration Policy Center (USIPC) at the University of California, San Diego and the Southern Border Communities Coalition (SBCC) said their findings reveal that three-quarters of voters do not fully trust border agents to respect our rights.
“Public safety depends on public trust, but there can be no trust if there is no accountability. The poll results show that a large majority of voters simply do not trust U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the nation’s largest law enforcement agency,” a release said. “Although the poll reveals a crisis of confidence in CBP, it also shows the overwhelming interest of voters in more accountability.”
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“Recent revelations of agency cover-ups have led more than three-quarters of voters to believe that we need independent prosecutors to review cases involving border agents for possible obstruction of justice,” the release continued. “More than two-thirds of voters want to require CBP to have a warrant to conduct a search, and nearly three-quarters want Congress to give individuals the right to sue agents when their civil and constitutional rights are violated.”
SBCC was pivotal in helping disband the secretive CBP units that for years have functioned solely to cover up abuses by border agents, and last year urged lawmakers to investigate the Border Patrol Critical Incident Teams (BPCITs). In an unprecedented development in January, 10 Senate and House committee and subcommittee chairs called for a Government Accountability Office probe into the units. In May, the Biden administration announced it would be disbanding the units.
While advocates celebrated the victory, they also urged investigators to consider looking into past allegations of abuse “to ensure that families harmed find closure and justice.” The way agents have gotten away with their crimes once again fell onto the national radar the following month, when the right-wing Supreme Court issued a 6-3 decision further shielding criminal agents from accountability. Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who authored the dissent, “wrote that the court had ‘absolutely immunized from liability’ thousands of Border Patrol agents ‘no matter how egregious the misconduct or resultant injury,’” The Washington Post said.
”Only 26% report ‘a great deal’ or ‘a lot’ of trust that border agent swill respect the constitutional rights of everyone,” the polling said. A similar number also reported “’a great deal’ or ‘a lot’ of trust that border agents will be held accountable if they abuse someone’s constitutional rights.” Meanwhile, “77% either ‘somewhat support’ or ‘strongly support’ having prosecutors review cases involving Critical Incident Teams (CITs) for potential obstruction of justice.”
The long-awaited internal probe into the abuses against Haitian migrants at the border town of Del Rio, Texas, last year is just one example of why independent investigators are needed. Not only did agency officials say they found “no evidence” that agents “struck, intentionally or otherwise, any migrant with their reins,” not one single Haitian migrant was interviewed as part of the 500-page report. Not. One. Single. Migrant. “The actual people that endured this abuse have not been interviewed,” UndocuBlack Network Executive Director Patrice Lawrence responded. “Instead, these individuals, in mass, were deported.”
“Public safety depends on public trust of the government, but there can be no trust if there is no accountability,” the polling release said. SBCC noted in May that despite more than 200 deaths being tied to CBP’s “culture of violence,” not one single agents in the agency’s history has ever been convicted of homicide. “Congress should listen to voters and use its authority to hold CBP accountable.”
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