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Senators from both sides of the aisle want Trump to clear the air on the Khashoggi killing. Also on the Wednesday rundown: Massachusetts leads the U.S. in the fentanyl-overdose death rate; plus we will let you know why business want to preserve New Mexico’s special places.

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Border Community Activists Warn of “Mounting Human Rights Crisis”

June 8, 2012

PHOENIX – The number of illegal border crossings from Mexico has dropped sharply in recent years, but that hasn't slowed human-rights violations against border-area residents, according to community advocates.

Two years ago in El Paso, Texas, a 15-year-old boy was shot and killed for throwing rocks as border patrol officers were apprehending his friend. Immigrant rights activists are demanding justice for Sergio Hernandez Guereca, but they're also calling for government safeguards against excessive force and abuse along the border from Texas to California, says Cristina Parker with the Border Network for Human Rights.

"We're living in a militarized zone where 25 miles from the border the border patrol can basically do anything. And there's no mechanism in place to account for any of that, or even see if these policies are even working."

With the help of hundreds of miles of new walls and fences, military weaponry, and cutting-edge technologies, the Obama administration has beefed up immigration enforcement - including a record 1.5 million deportations. In addition to several needless border killings, says Parker, there have been countless unconstitutional searches, detentions and checkpoints.

While the number of border patrol agents has ballooned to an all-time high of around 26,000, Parker claims hiring standards have declined, and there's virtually no follow-up on citizen complaints. What's missing, she thinks, is an independent body charged with monitoring all border-enforcement agencies to make sure they adhere to basic human-rights standards.

"And be able to have investigative power, rule-making authority, and subpoena power over those agencies that could be committing any kinds of abuses - the use of lethal force, psychological or physical abuse, wrongful detention - things like that, that we see a lot here on the border."

Parker's group is calling for the creation of a Border Enforcement Accountability and Oversight Commission. It's been a component of long-stalled comprehensive immigration reform legislation - which the president pledges to push during the first year of a second term. Parker says he could implement it now, by executive order.

Doug Ramsey, Public News Service - AZ