29 March 2012

Amnesty International criticises US immigration practices on Mexican border

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A report published by humanitarian organisation Amnesty International claims US immigration enforcement polices along the Mexican border discriminate against Hispanics and Native Americans and can often lead to death.

US immigration

Amnesty International has recommended US immigration authorities suspend all of its enforcement polices while a review is carried out.

The report, titled 'In Hostile Terrain: Human Rights Violations in Immigration Enforcement in the US Southwest' claims there are systemic failures at federal, state and local levels to properly and fairly enforce US immigration laws.

"Communities living along the US-Mexico border, particularly Latinos, individuals perceived to be of Latino origin and indigenous communities, are disproportionately affected by a range of immigration-control measures, result in a pattern of human rights violations," said the report.

The report claimed more than 5,000 people had died between 1998 and 2008 trying to reach the US and that tightened border restrictions meant that more and more people trying to cross the border were rerouted "to the most hostile terrain...including crossings over vast deserts, rivers and high mountains in searing heat."

The US government has taken steps to increase border security in recent years, including adding additional fencing, technology and Border Patrol agents as well as partnering with local and state police forces.

Amnesty International claims it is this partnership which puts "Latino communities, indigenous communities and communities of colour along the border at risk of discriminatory profiling."

A spokesperson for the Department of Homeland Security rejected the report's findings, claiming they are based "almost entirely on either outdated information or anonymous anecdotes that can be neither investigated nor resolved."

"[The Department of Homeland Security] takes allegations of racial profiling and civil rights and civil liberties violations seriously and has processes in place to immediately investigate and take appropriate action as needed," said the spokesperson.

"The department has worked had to create a culture where all people are respected and treated fairly and within the bounds of the law."

The spokesperson also added that the Border Patrol, Search, Trauma and Rescue team "has saved the lives of countless people, including illegal immigrants, in the harsh conditions of the Southwest border."

Amnesty International has urged the US government to suspend all of its immigration enforcement policies while a review can be conducted which will ensure they do not have the "effect of leading to the deaths of migrants."

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