Padilla Introduces Border Patrol Accountability Legislation

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senator Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Chair of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, and Border Safety, joined Senator Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) and several of their Senate colleagues in introducing legislation to create mechanisms for border residents and stakeholders to provide recommendations and oversight of border policies, while improving the training and enforcement accountability of U.S Customs and Border Protection (CBP). The Border Accountability, Oversight, and Community Engagement Act would enact critical reforms to immigration enforcement at the U.S. border that would help prevent abuses and increase scrutiny of incidents such as those carried out in Del Rio and many other communities along the border.

The legislation is co-sponsored by U.S. Senators Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.). Similar legislation was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Congresswoman Veronica Escobar (D-Texas).

“The persistent lack of accountability and inhumane behavior we have seen from Border Patrol agents in Del Rio and in other incidents across the southern border are unacceptable,” said Senator Padilla. “We must hold our federal law enforcement to a higher standard, provide proper oversight of these agencies, and ensure our border communities have a seat at the table. The Border Accountability, Oversight, and Community Engagement Act will help to reform our immigration enforcement practices and take steps to reduce and prevent abuses of power.”

“I’m proud to introduce the Border Accountability, Oversight and Community Engagement Act to increase accountability at the U.S. border and to help prevent abuses, such as those carried out in Del Rio and many other communities along the border. Border communities know their communities best, and it’s far past time that these communities are part of the conversation around border policy,” said Senator Luján. “That’s what this legislation will accomplish, and I look forward to working with Representative Escobar and my colleagues to advance this legislation.”

Earlier this year, Senator Padilla introduced legislation to improve accountability for federal law enforcement and allow individuals to sue officers and agencies in civil court for a violation of their civil and constitutional rights. Current law prevents individuals from filing a lawsuit against a federal law enforcement officer in many cases – though lawsuits against state and local law enforcement officers are allowed.

Specifically, the Border Accountability, Oversight, and Community Engagement Actwould:

  • Establish a commission within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) comprised of representatives from northern and southern border states to develop policy recommendations, evaluate policies, and improve agent and officer safety;
  • Establish the DHS Office of the Ombudsman dedicated to investigating complaints, identifying systemic issues, and providing recommendations to improve border and immigration activities;
  • Create a border liaison office within U.S. Customs and Border Protection;
  • Mandate certain training and education for CBP officers and agents, such as community policing practices, lawful use of force and de-escalation tactics, and history and ethics of asylum law; and
  • Require reports from DHS, CBP, and GAO, such as: an assessment of staffing needs and border security strategy, use of body-worn cameras, use of force policies, and death of migrants while in custody.

Full text of the legislation can be found HERE.


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