FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Joanna Williams, firstname.lastname@example.org, 520-287-2370
Nogales, AZ, and Nogales, Sonora April 23, 2018
October 10, 2012, the night José Antonio Elena Rodriguez was killed by Border Patrol agent Lonnie Swartz, was a devastating moment for José Antonio’s family and friends. They have struggled to keep the memory of Jose Antonio’s life and the injustice of his death in the minds of local citizens, and state and federal governments on both sides of the border. At the Kino Border Initiative, we have stood with his family in their grief and their persistent fight for justice. As such, we accompany them in their sorrow today given the jury’s decision to declare Lonnie Swartz not guilty of second-degree murder.
We also remember other victims who have been unjustly killed by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents while on Mexican soil, such as José Alfredo Yanez Reyes in Tijuana, Sergio Adrian Hernández Guereca in Cd. Juárez, Antonio Perez Ramirez in San Luis Colorado, Ramsés Barrón Torres in Nogales, Guillermo Arévalo Pedraza in Nuevo Laredo, and Juan Pablo Pérez Santillán in Matamoros. All of those who are responsible for these deaths are free from punishment, and none of the victims nor their family members have ever been afforded a path to justice.
KBI has consistently advocated for reform of CBP policies and protocol, as well as for greater accountability and oversight of CBP, to ensure that the dignity of border residents and migrants is upheld. Today’s verdict demonstrates the persistent obstacles to accountability in Border Patrol that remain, particularly when it comes to use of force. We continue to call for measures to prevent future deaths, including an increase in staffing levels for personnel involved in oversight, the implementation of body-worn cameras with robust privacy and accountability protocols, and a more transparent and accessible complaint process. These steps are critical to ensure the safety and well-being for border residents and migrants who are detained by Border Patrol.
José Antonio’s family has been committed in its demands for justice, which resulted in the historic decision to charge Lonnie Swartz with second degree murder. Despite today’s decision, we will continue to stand with the Elena Rodriguez family and all those who have fallen victim to Border Patrol abuse. We recommit to tirelessly fighting for policies and practices that could prevent future deaths.
About the Kino Border Initiative
The Kino Border Initiative (KBI) is a binational organization that works in the area of migration and is located in Nogales, Arizona, and Nogales, Sonora, Mexico. The KBI was inaugurated in January of 2009 by six organizations from the United States and Mexico: The California Province of the Society of Jesus (now USA West Province), Jesuit Refugee Service/USA, the Missionary Sisters of the Eucharist, the Mexican Province of the Society of Jesus, the Diocese of Tucson and the Archdiocese of Hermosillo (KBI’s work is now part of the Diocese of Nogales). The KBI’s vision is to help make humane, just, workable migration between the U.S. and Mexico a reality. Its mission is to promote U.S./Mexico border and immigration policies that affirm the dignity of the human person and a spirit of binational solidarity through direct humanitarian assistance and accompaniment with migrants and other social and educational programs on both sides of the border. For more information on the Kino Border Initiative, visit www.kinoborderinitiative.org.