Following a thorough examination and criticism from immigration advocates who cited instances in which passengers died when drivers eluded law enforcement, U.S. border agents modified their approach to going after smugglers and other criminal suspects on Wednesday.
Just days after a tragedy in southern New Mexico that left two people dead and eight injured on Sunday, Customs and Border Protection announced the modifications on Wednesday. Jan. 5 saw yet another accident. after the Border Patrol agent’s shooting.
According to the agency, the amended order offers a framework for balancing the benefits or needs of law enforcement against the hazards of a pursuit.
The organization claimed that to develop the new policy; it studied more than a dozen car pursuit policies from other law enforcement organizations around the United States.
Acting Commissioner Troy Miller stated in a statement that “as a professional law enforcement organization, CBP is always changing policies to reflect best practices, public safety concerns, and growing public expectations.”
“As we carry out our work, the safety of the police, agents, and the public is important.”
According to officials, the policy spells out criteria to consider when determining whether to pursue a vehicle and when to end a chase — similar to the “reasonableness” principles that most law enforcement personnel take into account when dealing with threats to themselves or the public.
Additionally, it sets forth reporting guidelines designed to increase accountability and transparency.
The New Mexico chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union had denounced the collapse on Sunday and demanded that the agency put best practices first.
An ACLU lawyer named Rebecca Sheff said in a statement that “this sad occurrence represents the horrific but expected effect of the Border Patrol’s reckless vehicle pursuits, which put the lives of persons seeking refuge in the United States as well as all New Mexicans at danger.”
After an agent activated his emergency lights to halt a car suspected of smuggling persons, the driver allegedly sped off, according to CBP.
In a matter of seconds, the motorist lost control.
In August, two brothers from Mexico were accused after they fled the police, crashed their car, and caused two deaths and ten injuries only a few miles from the border between the United States and Mexico.
According to court records, the brothers had been smuggled into the country and pledged to pay their debt by bringing in further migrants.
According to border police, there has been an increase in people smuggling in the region, which encompasses El Paso, Texas, and remote areas of New Mexico.
They stated that since October, authorities had discovered more than 650 migrants and roughly 60 stash houses.
In February 2022, the Homeland Security civil rights office alerted Customs and Border Protection that it had received numerous complaints about alleged civil rights violations resulting from pursuits of vehicles the year before.
Allegations were made that staff engaged in uncalled-for, unauthorized high-speed pursuits.
The CPB reviewed trends and results related to pursuits beginning in 2021. Over the subsequent year, the agency wrote the new policy.
After training, the policy will go into effect, according to the agency. Implementation and training will be supervised by a new CBP’s Law Enforcement Safety and Compliance Directorate division.