In Texas, a Migrant Was Shot Dead in Border Patrol Custody

The U.S.-Mexico border is becoming deadlier, according to the government's data.
The U.S.-Mexico border is becoming deadlier, according to the government's data. U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
On Tuesday, a Mexican citizen was shot and killed while being held in Border Patrol’s custody, prompting calls for a transparent investigation into the incident.

The deadly shooting took place at the Ysleta Border Patrol Station in El Paso, officials said in a press release.

The incident came a week after a detention center warden in West Texas’ Hudspeth County, along with another man, reportedly opened fire on two migrants, killing one, in a drive-by shooting.

Along with local police and an internal investigatory unit, the FBI has taken charge of a probe into the latest shooting. Although Border Patrol has said its agents were involved, it hasn’t released further details about the incident.

In a statement, U.S. Customs and Border Protection said Border Patrol agents “assigned to the Ysleta Border Patrol Station, were involved in a shooting incident at the Ysleta station.”

“One person in custody was shot and transported to a local hospital for evaluation and treatment,” the statement added. The FBI in El Paso later told media the man died of his wounds.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Texas has called for a “transparent and thorough” investigation of the fatal shooting.

“No person should be harmed while detained by the government,” the ACLU of Texas said on Twitter Wednesday. “The horrific, fatal shooting of an individual in Border Patrol custody affirms the need for public accountability. We demand a transparent and thorough investigation.”
Last week, two men, among them a migrant detention center warden in Hudspeth County, allegedly carried out a drive-by shooting targeting migrants walking along the road. The attack left one dead, while another migrant was hospitalized with injuries.

The drive-by led Texas Democratic Party chairman Gilberto Hinojosa to accuse Republicans of “violent fear-mongering of undocumented migrants.”

“At the state and federal level, we have plenty of work to do in securing our border – namely by finally enacting a fair, humane, and orderly immigration system – but that gives no excuse to these Republicans who are all but beating a war drum against not the immigration system, but rather the individual border-crossers themselves,” Hinojosa said in a press release.

He added, “This vitriol must end before even more people are killed.”

"We demand a transparent and thorough investigation." – ACLU of Texas

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Fiscal Year 2021saw more than 560 migrants die on the U.S.-Mexico border, the highest number since the government began tracking the deaths.

Between January 2010 and August 2022, at least 243 people died during “encounters” with Customs and Border Protection, according to the ACLU of Texas' database.

That tally included 19 children, 35 U.S. citizens or permanent residents and at least 14 deaths “related to the border wall,” the ACLU of Texas says.

In recent months, Texas Republicans, including Gov. Greg Abbott, have ramped up anti-migrant rhetoric, sounding the alarm on what they call an “invasion” on the state’s southern border with Mexico.

Rights groups have accused the governor and others in the Texas GOP of fanning the flames of anti-migrant violence.

Earlier this week, the U.S. Department of Justice in North Texas announced the arrest of an Amarillo man who had vowed to travel to the border and "start shooting invaders with joy and honor," according to posts he made on the right-wing social media site Gab.

That man, Everett Copelin, had also allegedly threatened to kill federal agents, supporters of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O'Rourke, Jews and Black people, among others
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Patrick Strickland is the former news editor at the Dallas Observer. He's worked as a senior reporter at Al Jazeera English. His reporting has appeared in the New York Review of Books, The Guardian, Politico EU and The New Republic, among others.

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