Ofelia Rivas, Tohono O’odham citizen and activist, discussing the impact of the border fence on the Tohono O’odham people in both the us and Mexico.

Amnesty International Report Cites Human Rights Violations Along US-Mexico Border


Amnesty International recently released a report titled, "In Hostile Terrain: Human Rights Violations in Immigration Enforcement in the U.S. Southwest," stating that Latinos, immigrants and Native Americans are subject to “a pattern of human right violations” along the Southwestern border (Arizona and Texas mostly) under the U.S. immigration policies according to an article at CNN.com.

The two-year study found border communities are disproportionately affected by a variety of immigration control measures leading to the violations according to Amnesty International.

The report draws attention to the failure of federal and state laws to respect immigrants’ right to life, not to mention its findings for U.S. citizens of Latino descent or Native American heritage being subjected to “discriminatory profiling by federal, state and local law enforcement officials, that result in their being disproportionately targeted for police stops and searches,” as reported by CNN.com.

Arizona’s immigration law H.B. 1070, which gives law enforcement the right to stop and request legal documentation from anyone the officers consider suspicious could have an impact.

The report also highlighted a concern for the Indigenous Peoples whose lands and communities straddle the border, stating they are "often intimidated and harassed by border officials for speaking little English or Spanish and holding only tribal identification documents," according to Reuters.

The report however, has been criticized and dismissed by United States officials.

"Amnesty International's report is based almost entirely on either outdated information or anonymous anecdotes that can be neither investigated nor resolved," Department of Homeland Security spokesman Matt Chandler told CNN.com.

Even though it’s findings are being dismissed, it’s worth noting that it wasn’t long ago when the U.S. Justice Department accused the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office in Arizona of engaging in systematic racial profiling against Latinos in its efforts to crack down on illegal immigration, according to Reuters.

The report goes on to recommend that the U.S. Customs and Border Protection include and work with the 26 Indian nations that live or straddle the border. This includes acknowledging tribal passports, identification papers, and immigration documents for travel across the border.

The report under section three, “Abuses Against indigenous Peoples,” shares the story of “A.B.” who has been living in hiding for 10 years. He’s a Tohono O’odham citizen, who worked on a ranch in the U.S. but while crossing back stateside from Sonoyta, State of Sonora, Mexico was detained by Customs and Border Protection (CBP), arrested, and called racial slurs before being deported back to Sonoyta. A week later, he returned to the U.S. by crossing two hours from the checkpoint. He is married to a Tohono O’odham and U.S. citizen, but must remain on the reservation because he cannot cross through any of the checkpoints.

Ofelia Rivas, an advocate and Tohono O’odham member, told Amnesty International in the report that the reservation has three border checkpoints and she is stopped every time. “There are CBP checkpoints at all three exits from the [Tohono O’odham] Nation and we are inspected to see if we have migrants or drugs. I live 130 miles from Tucson and I go through these checkpoints to get groceries and supplies regularly. I speak O’odham to them and I’m always pulled over for a secondary check and they use a drug dog. Every time,” she said in the report.

Some of the border tribes like Tohono O’odham issue Tribal Identification Cards that are considered a legitimate form of identification. The report says that the U.S. government has started working with tribes on enhanced Tribal IDs that contain microchips to allow border crossing. “However, there are concerns that some tribal members may not qualify because, for example, they cannot provide a birth certificate,” the report said. “Even those individuals with Tribal ID cards may encounter problems as Border Patrol agents sometimes question the validity or do not accept Tribal ID as a valid form of documentation for crossing the border.”

Chandler confirmed with CNN.com that the government is working with tribes on developing forms of identification and as of January the government has approved six of 12 forms submitted by tribes as valid forms for crossing the border. He also said that two of the six tribes, the Kootenai of Idaho and the Pascua Yaqui of Arizona, have fully approved Enhanced Tribal Cards.

Similar difficulties affect tribes that are not federally recognized as they are not subject to Tribal ID cards.

According to Reuters, Chandler said, “The department has worked hard to create a culture where all people are respected and treated fairly and within the bounds of the law."

“If we want to visit Mexico for our sacred lands, you need a passport, but there are bars to getting one,” Antonio Diaz of the Texas Indigenous Council said in the report. “We are still connected to the lands … I have to ask for permits, which means they have taken that right [to travel to sacred lands] away.”

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brittanicus's picture
Submitted by brittanicus on
Implement the 2006 Secure Fence act as enacted by Congress. Double fencing with patrolling tracks between, for rapid enforcement. Bring the troops home from Afghanistan and place them armed along the border from Brownville, TX to San Diego, California. Once executed there will be no more gripes, from the peanut gallery. It is time to do what’s right for 20 million of Americans jobless, instead of Sanctuary California and many of the other 50 states pandering to the illegal alien invasion from across the world? By Beginning with a Congressional enactment of national mandatory E-Verify law, which will release hundreds of thousands of good jobs, as a result illegal aliens fleeing home because work is no longer available. Rhode Island Governor Chafee has joined a bunch of other states, to try and rescind Arizonans immigration enforcement laws, because thousands would venture into states with less policing enforcement and would perpetrating more ID fraud and gaining access to their public assistance programs through unfunded mandates. o these scheming politicians on all levels of government should be justifiably voted out of office that is catering to foreign nationals. By unseating these un-American politicians it will make room for Constitutional Tea Party fresh faced lawmakers, who are not part of the elite Democratic or Republican Hierarchy. They will promote tough legislation in the Senate and House for the removal of Pro-illegal immigrant laws, and thereby rescinding Sanctuary city ordinances, chain migration of families, Dream Act laws that are giving illegal aliens more rights than US citizens. With a $113 billion dollars price tag and rising for welfare for illegal aliens, this really is a serious flaw in our constitutional system of government. You can read about the terrible consequence of not securing our borders, which is attracting millions of more impoverished people for free welfare at NUMBERSUSA. www.numbersusa.com/ We must insure that our established Congress no longer encumbers the further removal of overwhelming numbers of invaders, which has multiplied throughout this sovereign nation.