Human Rights Abuse on the US-Mexican Border Between 1993-97 there was a 72% increase in funds provided to the Immigration and Naturalization Services. The INS has a mobile uniformed division responsible for policing the US-Mexican border called Border Patrol. With such a dramatic increase in just four years it is obvious that the border area is a pressing concern to the US government.
The Border Patrol conducts inspections of travelers, regulates permanent and temporary immigration into the United States and maintains control of the US borders, which amount to 8,000 miles. They also identify and remove persons who have no lawful immigration status in the United States. The border patrol works hand-in-hand with the INS to ensure that immigration policies are followed under United States law. There is an estimated 7,000 Border Patrol agents, all are armed and have the power to stop and inspect whoever they please. The agents are continuously questioned on their conduct in how they perform their job.
The majority of the questions come from human rights activists. These agents are enforcing US law on individuals attempting to enter the country but are the human rights of these individuals being violated? The topic of human rights is a major issue on the border and there is growing evidence to support the fact that human rights are being abused. In this paper I will identify the causes of human rights abuse in border areas, prove with individual and statistical testimony that human rights are being abused on the US-Mexican border, and present some efforts and policies for the promotion of human rights by both Mexico and the United States. Since the introduction of NAFTA the changes in immigration laws have put tremendous pressures on the INS and Border Patrol. This created more of a chaotic scene across the border and policing tactics had to accommodate with the new regulations. There was more travel for laborers who resided in Mexican territory yet worked daily in the US.
With the excessive passing over the border comes more illegal immigration. Tremendous pressure is put on the Border Patrol to prevent the illegal immigrants from successfully coming to the United States. The Human Development Report states the definition of human rights, as the rights possessed by all persons, by virtue of their common humanity, to live a life of freedom and dignity. They give all people moral claims in the behavior of individuals and the design of social arrangements and are universal, inalienable and indivisible. Human rights express our deepest commitments to ensuring that all persons are secure in their enjoyment of the goods and freedoms that are necessary for dignified living. Human rights belong to all people, and all people have equal status with respect to these rights (UNDP 2000).
With human rights is the right to freedom. -Freedom from discrimination in any form under any circumstance-Freedom from fear, such as threats to personal security, torture, arbitrary arrest, and other violent acts-Freedom from injustice and violations of the law and the freedom of thought and speech and to participate in decision-making and form associationsThese are individual freedoms that are granted to every human being. They are not arguable and are not outranked in power. Obviously human rights are not priority in every country in the world but many countries strive to achieve the goal of completely equal human rights.
Many factors play a part as to the success of human rights. A democracy for instance, has four defining features based in human rights: holding of free and fair elections contributes to the fulfillment of the right to political participation; allowing free and independent media contributes to fulfillment of the right to freedom of expression, thought and conscience; separating powers among branches of government helps to protect citizens from abuses of their civil and political rights; and encouraging an open civil society contributes to fulfillment of the right to peaceful assembly and association (UNDP 2000). This would suggest societies who function under a democracy will rank higher on the Human Development Index (HDI). Human development and human rights share a common vision and a common purpose, to secure the freedom, well being, and dignity of all people .