Coalition wants Border Patrol reined in

Feb. 29, 2012 at 6:35 PM
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SEATTLE, Feb. 29 (UPI) -- A coalition of advocacy groups in states along the U.S.-Canadian border have asked Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to rein in the Border Patrol.

The Northern Border Coalition urged Napolitano Tuesday to put limits on what border agents can do, The Seattle Times reported. The umbrella organization, which includes for the Seattle-based immigrant-rights group OneAmerica, wants border agents barred from carrying out enforcement actions at gatherings such as weddings, funerals, school events and church services, and from providing 911 centers or translation for local police.

The group said the doubling of funding for Customs and Border Protection since the terrorist attacks of 2001 has led to new problems.

"As funding for CPB has soared, the agency's enforcement activity has drifted inland, often times many miles from the border or any point of entry," the letter said.

"As this enforcement activity ... has increased, so too have questionable practices that violate constitutional rights and standards."

In one case a year ago, the family of a man with mental illness called 911 for help in Whatcom County, Wash. The man, Alejandro Perez-Martinez, 31, was shot and killed by a Border Patrol agent and a sheriff's deputy who responded to the call. While authorities said Martinez attacked a deputy with a hammer and the shooting was justified, community activists are calling for an independent investigation.

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