The House of Representatives voted last week to waive polygraph tests for certain border agents, despite heavy criticism from border groups, reports The Hill. The bill would make polygraph exemptions for candidates who are law enforcement officials or military veterans.

Christian Ramirez with the Southern Border Communities Coalition released the following statement:

“To lower hiring standards for Border Patrol is an affront to border communities who have urged the federal government to implement sorely needed oversight and accountability mechanisms in the nation’s largest law enforcement agency. Today’s misguided vote in the House of Representatives compounds the public’s mistrust for an agency already riddled with corruption and a culture of violence and impunity that has deteriorated its credibility in our communities, threatening the security and quality of life for the 15 million folks who call the borderlands home.”

A 2010 anti-corruption law mandates that all candidates for border agent positions pass a lie detector test.

In 2013, the Center for Investigative Reporting revealed that some potential agents admitted to crimes as serious as kidnapping and rape during the exams.


Seven Democratic members of Congress visited the Deported Veterans Support House in Tijuana on June 3 after Rep. Juan Vargas, who represents California’s 51st District, re-introduced a series of bills aimed at helping deported veterans receive aid (to which they are entitled through the VA) and/or U.S. citizenship.


Also on June 3: Nearly 30 years to the day after President Ronald Reagan gave his famous “Tear down this wall!” speech imploring Germany to unify, the Dresdner Sinfoniker, a German orchestra, performed a protest concert in Playas, Tijuana. The concert, which featured performers from Germany, Guatemala, Mexico and the United States, was originally supposed to take place on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border, but was forced to move entirely to the Mexican side of the border after its permit was denied by United States authorities.

The concert drew a crowd of thousand in Mexico, and a smattering of pro-wall protesters on the San Diego side (who were, apparently, issued permits to play music of their own).

Photo by Brooke Binkowski
Photo by Brooke Binkowski

Among the guests: Hugo Castro, a American border activist who made headlines when he disappeared for several days in Mexico.

Music without borders – this orchestra traveled to Tijuana, Mexico to send Trump a message.

— AJ+ (@ajplus) June 11, 2017


National City residents are asking for sanctuary city status after a local undocumented couple (who are parents to four U.S. citizens) were taken into immigration custody. A recent City Council hearing was packed with people asking for help protecting undocumented residents within the city’s borders.


A Cal State Los Angeles student who was taken into immigration custody in Otay Mesa has been released on orders from a San Diego judge. Claudia Rueda was arrested in what her supporters said was retaliation for activism following her mother’s detention. She was arrested at her Boyle Heights home when she walked outside to move a car, City News Service reports. Rueda still faces possible deportation, but her attorneys are pushing the federal government to drop the case, arguing that she is eligible to apply for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA.


Deportees unable to return to the United States are now seeking “the Mexican Dream” — and finding success in small businesses.

Cross-Border Government News

The United States and Mexico have agreed on a sugar deal that appears poised to lower the prices of sweeteners in the U.S. The agreement, which represents concessions by Mexico to U.S. sugar producer interests, resolves a long-standing trade dispute, reports Reuters. That has sparked new rumblings about renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA, a deal signed into law by the Clinton administration in 1993.


The head of the Sistema Integral de Transporte de Tijuana, or SITT, has stepped down in a surprise resignation. Fausto Armenta Parra led the beleaguered transportation agency for only five months.

Crime and Border Deaths

A pair of human heads were found in a cooler near the attorney general’s office in Tijuana last week, the day after two decapitated bodies were discovered in the Los Valles area.

The gruesome discoveries came less than two weeks after the heads of an elderly couple, one of whom was identified as a retired teacher, were found above Salsipuedes on the scenic road between Tijuana and Ensenada.


A Tijuana priest is recovering after he was stabbed in the head with a screwdriver during a home invasion robbery. Rev. Antonio Zambrano reportedly had successful surgery to remove the object, which did not reach his brain. According to reports, Zambrano was sleeping when he heard noises outside. He went to investigate and a robber attacked him, then fled.


Sergio Haro, a Zeta reporter in Mexicali legendary for his fearlessness and love for Baja California, has died. Haro, a familiar sight and friendly face to many border reporters who was the subject of the documentary film “Reportero,” was 60 years old. His colleagues say he collapsed while working on an article.

Brooke Binkowski is a backpack reporter who has been covering the U.S.-Mexico border for many years. Find her on Twitter at @brooklynmarie.

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