ACLU demands Customs and Border Protection to investigate recent deadly vehicle pursuit

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EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of New Mexico and Texas sent a letter on Wednesday demanding that Customs and Border Protection (CBP) conduct an independent investigation into a deadly vehicle pursuit by Border Patrol that happened on August 3.

The ACLU border affiliates also called on CBP to release its written vehicle pursuit policy immediately, and said the agency has refused to make public.

Members of ACLU said the August 3 crash involving CBP happened along New Mexico Highway 185 in the El Paso Border Patrol sector, and resulted in the deaths of two people along with eight others hospitalized. The union states the incident is one of hundreds to occur in the last few years.

2019 ProPublica study examines more than 500 incidents found, and that one in three Border Patrol vehicle pursuits ended in a crash. The ACLU has also tracked 56 additional deaths resulting from Border Patrol involved chases since 2010.

“The recent pursuit that resulted in a tragic loss of life and multiple injuries is, unfortunately, not an isolated incident,” said Rebecca Sheff, Senior Staff Attorney at the ACLU of New Mexico. “Deaths due to Border Patrol vehicle pursuits occur with disturbing frequency. Our communities and the family members of those who have been killed deserve answers and accountability.” 

ACLU said details of the the August 3 crash are only available via CBP’s own press release, and the agency did not issue until 14 days after the incident. The union adds the initial version CBP’s statement also failed to include information about a person who died, who was a U.S. citizen.

“The lack of transparency and accountability surrounding Border Patrol’s deadly vehicle pursuits is highly alarming, especially given the number of injuries and lives lost in recent incidents,” said Shaw Drake, staff attorney and policy counsel for the ACLU of Texas. “Tragically, this failure of accountability is consistent with the agency’s long history of impunity. Without proper oversight, CBP will continue to harm border communities without consequence.”

A copy of the letter is available here.

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