Congressmembers Voice Support for Alleged Border Brutality Victim

Activists hope to bring awareness to alleged Border Patrol abuses

By Lauren Steussy
|  Friday, May 11, 2012  |  Updated 12:48 PM PDT
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Caught on Camera: Border Struggle

A video appears to show a portion of the confrontation that led to the death of an illegal immigrant May 29 at the San Diego-Tijuana border crossing. Humberto Navarrete captured the grainy and dark video on his cellphone. In it Navarrete said Anastasio Hernandez Rojas yelled for help as U.S. Border Patrol agents attempt to subdue him.
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Over a dozen U.S. Congressmembers announced their support for an alleged victim of Border Patrol abuse on Thursday.

Anastasio Hernandez Rojas, an undocumented immigrant, died after a confrontation with Border Patrol agents on May 29 2010 at the San Diego-Tijuana border crossing.

The 16 congressmembers wrote letters to the  Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Attorney General asking for an investigation into the incident. They also voiced concern over current Border Patrol policies regarding their use of force.

Among the congressmembers who signed the letter include local representatives Bob Filner and Susan Davis.

Click here to read the letter to the Department of Homeland Security.

Support for Hernandez-Rojas has grown nation-wide. A vigil was held last week in Balboa park. Activists and supporters marched to the Hall of Justice in order to convince the U.S. Department of Justice to conduct an investigation of Rojas' death.

A video of the confrontation in May of 2010 appears to show part of a confrontation that led to his heart attack hours later. Humberto Navarrete captured the grainy and dark video on his cellphone. In it Navarrete said yelled for help as U.S. Border Patrol agents attempt to subdue him.

Hernandez was being removed from the country at the San Ysidro Port of Entry when he resisted and was eventually shot with a Taser stun gun, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

“I witnessed everything that happened from the beginning to the end,” said Navarrete.

“I was on my way to Tijuana. One of the uniformed agents had a knee on his back, another agent had his other knee on the back of his neck,” he said.

In the video Navarrete asks a U.S. agent nearby why they’re using “excessive force.” The agent replies that it appears he’s not cooperating.

"On the fifth discharge, we couldn't hear Anastasio yelling anymore," Navarrete said.

Hernandez died of a heart attack. According to the San Diego County Medical Examiner’s office, the 42-year old had methamphetamine in his system at the time of his death.

Friends and family discussed the grainy and dark video in which neither Hernandez nor the agents can be clearly seen.

“It's an outrage that you have a man who is under stress. Most likely being beaten by the screams he is making,” said Pedro Rios with the American Friends Service Committee.

“We want to make sure that this is a transparent investigation," Rios added. "We want to make sure that the details are made public.”

The incident, which is being investigated by the San Diego Police Department, has drawn protests from the Mexican government and immigrant rights groups.

A spokesperson for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection would said at the time of the incident that the agency is aware of the video and offered no other comment.


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