LAS CRUCES, N.M. — The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of New Mexico and the ACLU of Texas yesterday sent a letter demanding that Customs and Border Protection (CBP) conduct an independent investigation into an Aug. 3 deadly vehicle pursuit by Border Patrol. The ACLU border affiliates also called on CBP to immediately release its written vehicle pursuit policy, which the agency has refused to make public.
The Aug. 3 CBP crash along New Mexico Highway 185 in the El Paso Border Patrol sector, which killed two people and resulted in the hospitalization of eight others, is one of hundreds to occur in the last few years. A 2019 ProPublica study examining more than 500 incidents found 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.”
Details of the events surrounding the crash are only available via CBP’s own press release, which the agency did not issue until 14 days after the incident. The initial version of the 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.