Press Conference at Noon on Gutierrez BP Abuse Case, Charges

A noon press conference will follow today's 9 a.m. hearing of Shena Gutierrez, founding member of the Border Patrol Victims Network, at the DeConcini Federal Courthouse, 405 W. Congress St.

Gutierrez and two other activists contend they were physically and verbally abused by BP officers at the Nogales Port of Entry on Saturday, May 24.

In a press release from Border Action Network, Gutierrez was traveling to Mexico to tell her husband's story when the incident occurred. Her husband Jose was allegedly nearly beaten to death by CBP agents in Arizona in 2011. Gutierrez returned to the Port of Entry with two other Border Patrol Victims Network volunteers to demand the name of the agent she alleges abused her so she could file an official complaint.

From the LA Weekly on Jose Gutierrez:

After the L.A. Immigration Court deported him on March 21, Wilson says she lost touch with her husband, but guessed he would try to come back, seeing as their youngest — a five-month-old baby girl — was in the hospital. (Not to mention he has no roots in Mexico.)

The next she heard of him, Gutierrez was in a coma at St. Joseph's Hospital in Phoenix.

Wilson got a call from the Mexican consulate in Yuma, Arizona, saying, "We have to let you know that there has been an accident."

U.S. Customs and Border Protection will only tell Wilson that, on March 30, her husband made it to the second inspection at the San Luis point of entry in Arizona before he "got scared and tried to run back." When he allegedly tried to fight off CBP agents, they whipped out a taser.

Here's the CBP account:

An individual being processed for entering the country illegally March 30, at the San Luis Port attempted to flee into Mexico. The man was combative, ignored commands to halt and subsequently was subdued by CBP officers using an electronic control device (ECD). Initial reports say the man struck his head on the ground during the incident.
Emergency medical personnel responded to the scene and took him to a local area hospital for further medical attention.

We regret the injury and will continue to actively cooperate with the ongoing investigation.

More on Shena's case from Border Action Network after the jump.

"Agents not only refused to provide a name, but eventually arrested Shena along with two BPVN volunteers. The three are charged with disobeying a federal officer and Shena Gutierrez has been given an additional charge of impeding an inspection," according to the Border Action Network press release:

The initial appearance for the three will be 9 am on Wednesday, August 6 at the Deconcini federal courthouse in downtown Tucson. Following their hearing, Shena and Richard Boren, one of the arrested volunteers, will address their charges at a press conference outside the courthouse at 12 pm, joined by supporters and representatives of allied organizations, including No More Deaths and the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona.

No More Deaths’ Hannah Hafter says that the arrest of Shena and the two volunteers fits a pattern of cover-up and retaliation against individuals who assert their rights or file complaints against CBP and Border Patrol agents. Says Hafter: “CBP appears to routinely abuse its authority by penalizing those who question agents’ behavior or speak out about misconduct.” The BPVN argues that such actions create a general environment of impunity. CBP has still not released all the names of the agents who viciously beat Jose Gutierrez in March 2011, causing him permanent brain damage. Neither has it provided the name of the agent involved in subsequently detaining and harassing Shena Gutierrez. The U.S. Justice Department of Justice typically takes no action against border agents accused of serious human rights abuses.

CBP’s internal complaint process is notoriously burdensome. The inability to provide an agent’s name is routinely used by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to dismiss complaints filed against the agency. In June 2014 CBP’s head of internal affairs was removed from his position after evidence emerged of a systematic coverup of corruption and abuse within the 60,000 person-strong agency. Over a three year period only fourteen agents were ever disciplined, out of hundreds of complaints of excessive use of force and other agent misconduct.

The BPVN is made up of families who have lost loved ones to violence by border agents and others who have suffered physical abuse. BPVN condemns the actions of CBP for the abuse given to Shena Gutierrez, both before and during her arrest and detention, and for CBP's and the US Border Patrol's lack of accountability for the actions and abuses of their agents. BPVN demands that all charges be dropped against Shena Gutierrez and the two volunteers for these arbitrary arrests. Shena and Richard will announce their next steps at the press conference in pursuit of justice and accountability.