Border Militarization Update

Perry authorizes use of Texas National Guard at border; and El Paso County Sheriff's Office says will temporarily cease holding immigration stops and raids

ACLU director Will Harrell and friend at Camp Mabry hold 
a photo of Esequiel Hernandez, an American teenager 
gunned down by a Marine patrolling the Texas-Mexico 
border in 1997. The protesters say similar tragedies will 
occur under President Bush's plan to militarize the 
ACLU director Will Harrell and friend at Camp Mabry hold a photo of Esequiel Hernandez, an American teenager gunned down by a Marine patrolling the Texas-Mexico border in 1997. The protesters say similar tragedies will occur under President Bush's plan to militarize the border. (Photo By John Anderson)

After President Bush's call for deploying 6,000 National Guard troops to the Mexico border, Gov. Rick Perry authorized the use of 2,300 members of the Texas Nation-al Guard, who are trained locally at Camp Mabry. "We have trained and deployed more than 300 people so far," said Camp Mabry's Col. William Meehan "and expect to have trained 500 by the end of this week."

Though Meehan said that whether the governor's quota will be met is up to the Border Patrol, the plan is to train and send 1,000 troops by July, and 1,500 by the end of August. It was this news that brought 30 or so people to the gates of Camp Mabry this past weekend, wielding signs that bore the image of a young man in a cowboy hat named Esequiel Hernandez Jr. "We're just here to let these folks know what has happened before," said ACLU Executive Director Will Harrell, as cars rolled slowly past the demonstrators.

In 1997, the 18-year-old was fatally shot 100 yards from his home by a 22-year-old Marine who was deployed to the border as part of a Joint Task Force mission in support of the Border Patrol. "Sending the National Guard to the border is just repeating the same pattern that killed Esequiel," said the ACLU's Ray Ybarra, who has worked extensively on border issues. In addition to creating the ACLU Legal Observers program, whose members monitor the activities of the Minutemen, Ybarra organizes against border militarization such as the recent Operation Linebacker, an immigration control tactic conceived by the Texas Border Sheriff's Coalition. According to the governor's office, which has pledged $3 million in criminal-justice grant funds to support the project, Linebacker's purpose is to "integrate law enforcement resources along the border to increase both public safety and national security between points of entry."

Meanwhile, the Border Network for Hu-man Rights and the ACLU report that folks living in the East El Paso neighborhoods of San Elizario, Agua Dulce, Sparks, and Montana Vista have been experiencing an "increase in public safety" that consists of the El Paso County Sheriff's Office erecting road blocks and holding immigration raids in their neighborhoods, resulting in a general fear prohibiting members of the community from calling on their local law enforcement "in the event of crime, emergency, or even domestic violence." After receiving a petition signed by 3,000 community members, the sheriff's office released a statement Friday stating it would temporarily cease holding immigration stops and raids in El Paso; the BNHR and ACLU commend the action as a positive step that needs to be permanent. Sen. Eliot Shapleigh of El Paso also commended the sheriff's decision, saying "In America, the Constitution guarantees that all citizens are free from unreasonable search. To stop, frisk, interrogate, or detain based solely on the color of one's skin is against our laws and traditions."

Got something to say on the subject? Send a letter to the editor.

  • More of the Story

  • Naked City

    Headlines and happenings from Austin and beyond

    Airline Discrimination?

    Burundian author and runner Gilbert Tuhabonye has check-in trouble at Denver airport

    Section 8 Wait List Opening Soon

    Housing Authority of Austin's wait list open July 11-13, 2006[*NOTE]

    Serving Global Warming

    New report claims that between 1960 and 2001 global warming increased more in Texas than in any other state
  • Climate Change News

    Safe Climate Act introduced to Congress; and National Academy of Sciences releases climate change report requested by House Committee on Science chair

    Reed Appeal Shot Down

    Judge says witness testimony challenging state's version of facts in capital murder case against Rodney Reed during a March evidentiary hearing wasn't credible, the testimony probably wouldn't have helped Reed at 1998 trial, and no evidence exists that the Bastrop Co. District Attorney's Office committed misconduct by withholding potential evidence from Reed's defenders

    Supremes Navigate Water Law

    What is a navigable waterway? Court's latest weighing of limits of Clean Water Act portends future of additional regulatory battles and likely talk of amending the act

    Strayhorn Blasts Foster Care System

    Comptroller releases findings of two-year investigation

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Keep up with happenings around town

Kevin Curtin's bimonthly cannabis musings

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle