A video released Wednesday shows two uniformed Border Patrol agents trying to dump an injured man across the U.S.-Mexico border at Calexico, California, in violation of federal policies on repatriating foreign nationals from the United States.
The six-minute long video dates to 2017, according to NBC News, which obtained the footage from U.S. Customs and Border Protection after a whistleblower contacted the network about its existence.
The video, filmed from the Mexican side of the border, shows the two agents holding on to each of the man's arms as they walk him towards the international boundary near one of the border crossings. The man has his hands tied behind his back and is walking barefoot, wearing loose khaki pants and has his shirt only around his neck, with his torso exposed.
As the three approach the border, Mexican border officials walk up to the boundary and tell the agents in Spanish that they first have to go through the Mexican Consulate in the United States.
At one point, one of the Mexican officials asks one of the agents, "Are you new?"
The agent replies in Spanish, "No, I've been doing this for 20 years," adding a few seconds later that "I'm doing him a favor," alluding to the man.
As the Border Patrol agent argues with Mexican officials over whether or not the man is in their custody, the man is seen sitting on the ground, with his hands tied behind his back, and showing slightly erratic behavior, grunting and repeatedly rubbing his right leg and foot as if he's injured.
During the exchange with Mexican officials, the unidentified Border Patrol agent tells them that if he left the man alone, he would have killed himself, and that the Mexican authorities should call an ambulance for him. But officials on the Mexican side continue repeating that the man is on the U.S. side of the border and that if he's being repatriated, they must first go through the Mexican Consulate, if he's Mexican, to which the agent repeats, "He looks Mexican."
The entire exchange lasts approximately three minutes, after which the man walks off towards the international border crossings, unimpeded by the two agents, past south-bound traffic. At that same time, the two agents walk away from the border in the opposite direction.
NBC News reported the man was dropped off at a nearby park. But agents encountered him again one month later, and this time around processed him through the Mexican Consulate. They found out the man had previously been deported 16 times. Two agents shown in the video were reprimanded, according to NBC News, but still kept their jobs.
Rules on repatriation
The United States follows certain policies when it comes to repatriation, or deportations, of foreign nationals from the country. This incident appears to show the two agents ignoring those policies.
According to an agreement with the Mexican government, any Mexican citizens facing deportation must first be processed through one of that country's 50 consulates in the United States. Arizona has five of them.
In addition, any Mexican citizen who has been been cleared for deportation must be dropped off at one of 11 designated ports of entry along the U.S.-Mexico border. From there, Mexican immigration officials wait for them to register their arrival. They also provide them with certain services, including transportation vouchers to help them return to their states and cities of origin.
In 2017, the United States deported more than 166,000 Mexican citizens, according to statistics from the Mexican government. Nearly 15,000 deportations took place at the Calexico-Mexicali border, where the incident captured on the video took place.
The rules for deporting citizens from other countries other than Mexico are vastly different, since the Mexican government will not accept non-citizens to be deported to their country.
Instead, Immigration and Customs Enforcement must deport those individuals to their countries of origin via charter flights. This often means that non-Mexican citizens must often wait some time after their deportations have been ordered so ICE can fill up the plane.