García Alcántara was shot by the border officer several hours after crossing into Arizona this past summer. The SUV she was in was then followed by a Border Patrol vehicle. “That’s when Garcia’s journey took a violent turn: a Border Patrol agent shot her in the head under circumstances that remain unclear to Garcia, and which the U.S. government has declined to detail,” Nogales International reported in October.
“The agent’s identity has not been revealed,” the AP reports. This is not uncommon. For a lengthy period of time, the name of the agent who shot and killed Claudia Patricia Gómez González in 2018 was unknown. She was also shot in the head.
García Alcántara’s claim will be followed by a federal lawsuit. The Guardian reported in 2018 that the federal government has paid tens of millions of dollars to settle claims of wrongful death, detention, and other horrific abuses. “Customs and Border Protection, which oversees the Border Patrol, said the agency could not comment because the shooting was still being investigated internally by its Office of Professional Responsibility,” the AP reported. “It will also be reviewed by the CBP’s National Use of Force Review Board.”
But as the report notes, advocates do not have trust in an internal investigation. They point to the “shadow police unit” that has covered up border agents’ abuses for many years. That includes the cover-up around the 2010 killing of Anastasio Hernández Rojas at the hands of border agents. We also know that CBP lied about the circumstances around Gómez González’s killing from the very start. Her family filed a lawsuit against the federal government last year.
“This incident is not unique,” Arizona Rep. Raul Grijalva told the AP. He supports a congressional probe into García Alcántara’s shooting. “This is a pattern that needs to be dealt with.”
Now back in Mexico, García Alcántara said that officials never even bothered taking a declaration from her. She spent two nights in the hospital after being shot. She was then taken to a detention center for several weeks. This inhumane treatment is also not uncommon. In 2019, federal immigration officials’ treatment for an asylum-seeker who survived being shot in the head in his home country was ibuprofen. “I feared I was going to die,” Rolando told The Guardian at the time. He has since won asylum.