U.S. Border Agents Dump Injured Man over Border Because He 'Looks' Mexican

Updated | A newly released video shows U.S. Border Patrol agents attempting to return an injured man to Mexico, claiming he “looks” Mexican.

The footage obtained by NBC News depicts an incident on the U.S.-Mexico border in Calexico, California on March 27, 2017.

“They are bringing him over here,” a Mexican border agent is heard saying in Spanish.

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Responding to repeated warnings that the U.S. agents risked breaking a repatriation agreement, an officer responds, “Why would I have to call the consulate. He’s not in my custody?” The agent added that he has been doing the job for 20 years.

“You don’t even know if he’s Mexican or not,” a Mexican agent adds, to which a U.S. guard replies the man "looks" Mexican. The agent is also heard saying, “If I leave him there he was going to kill himself.”

Mexican border agents prevented their U.S. counterparts from handing over the man, who appears to be injured and mentally unstable. He then walks into traffic in the U.S.

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection sent NBC News the video after the network was alerted to it by a whistleblower. The agency did not reveal the names of those shown in the video for privacy reasons and NBC was unable to verify their identities.

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GettyImages-943883672 (1)
GettyImages-943883672 (1)

A U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer stands guard as pedestrians enter the United States at the San Ysidro port of entry on April 9, 2018 in San Ysidro, California. A newly released video shows a standoff between Mexican and U.S. border agents as the latter tried to repatriate a man. Mario Tama/Getty Images

An unnamed law enforcement source told NBC News that the man was left in a park and was taken to the Mexican consulate a month later as he tried to enter the U.S. from Mexico. The spokesperson added that the man was later confirmed to be a Mexican national, who had been arrested on 16 prior occasions for entering the U.S. illegally from multiple states. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection launched an investigation after Mexican officials complained.

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A spokesperson for U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) told Newsweek the agency's Office of Professional Responsibility is investigating the incident depicted in the video.

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"The Mexican Consulate notified the U.S. Border Patrol’s El Centro Sector about the incident at the time, which was March 17, 2017. After a review of the incident based on the information available, the Sector’s leadership addressed the agents’ actions," the spokesperson said.

"CBP is committed to treating everyone with professionalism, dignity and respect while enforcing the laws of the United States. CBP takes all allegations of mistreatment seriously, and does not tolerate actions that are not consistent with our core values of Vigilance, Service to Country and Integrity.”

Assistant Chief Patrol Agent David S. Kim told NBC News that the actions in the video were not consistent with the force’s normal procedures. “Corrective action was taken to ensure all our agents understand their responsibilities of adhering to established processes, practices, and policies,” he said. A CBP spokesperson told the network the footage showed an “isolated incident.”

The video of the standoff follows a 2017 study by the nonprofit advocacy group American Immigration Council (AIC) into the capture, custody and removal process of Mexican migrants from U.S. The survey of 600 migrants found that 43 percent were not told they had the right to contact their consulate, and almost 60 percent did not receive repatriation documents. Almost a quarter reported immigration authorities subjected them to abuse or aggression as they were apprehended.

“What emerges from the survey data and testimonies is an alarming portrait of the way Mexican migrants are treated while in U.S. custody and through the deportation process," AIC said in a statement at the time.

"Often, migrants do not receive copies of deportation documents and have little understanding of the processes they have undergone and the related legal ramifications. When U.S. officials prevent migrants from accessing critical information and processes, they further deprive individuals of their possible legal opportunities to present immigration claims,” the statement continued.

This piece has been updated with a statement from U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

This article was first written by Newsweek

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