Border Patrol Teaches Children to Shoot Paintball Guns at Immigrant Effigy

Tuesday, February 11, 2014
(photo: San Diego Immigrant Rights Consortium)

The U.S. Border Patrol has been criticized by immigrant advocates for showing children how to shoot humanlike targets with paintball guns.


Photos taken last summer at a law enforcement expo in San Ysidro, California, located just north of the border with Mexico, showed Border Patrol agents demonstrating the use of non-lethal force against a “migrant effigy.” The expo coincided with the annual San Diego Fallen Agents Memorial 5K Run.


Pedro Ríos, chair of the San Diego Immigrant Rights Consortium, called the event insensitive and inappropriate at a family event honoring fallen law enforcement.


“While encouraging children to use guns to shoot at a migrant effigy is unconscionable, it is also symbolic of the agency’s unabashed culture of violence which has grown from a lack of accountability, oversight and unprofessional standards that rebuke best practices in situations involving use-of-force,” Ríos said in a statement.


Border Patrol officials said the demonstration involved a standard target consisting of a metal cutout shaped like a person, dressed in a t-shirt and jeans. They were fired at with pepper ball guns loaded with rounds filled with baby powder.


“This specific activity was meant to create awareness about law enforcement tools used to address some violent situations without the use of deadly force,” officials said in their own prepared statement. “The U.S. Border Patrol takes pride in participating in community events to help build awareness about our activities and operations.”


Adding to the outrage was the placement of the target: against a rusted fence marking the boundary where Border Patrol agents conduct their patrols for illegal immigrants. “The target is dressed to resemble a migrant and is located within 100 feet from Virginia Avenue where actual persons have been killed by Border Patrol gunfire,” noted Ríos.


The Border Patrol insisted the target was placed in a location to avoid the paint balls from being fired in the direction of expo participants.


The Border Patrol falls under the umbrella of U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Border Patrol Pics Anger Activists (by Kristina Davis, San Diego Union-Tribune)

Disturbing Images Show Border Agents Encouraging Children to Shoot at Migrant Effigy(San Diego Immigrant Rights Consortium)

Few Consequences for Border Patrol Agents Using Deadly Force (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

10 Lawsuits Filed against Border Patrol for Abuse (by Matt Bewig, AllGov)


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