LAS CRUCES, N.M. —The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of New Mexico sent a letter yesterday demanding that Customs and Border Protection (CBP) conduct an independent investigation into a deadly vehicle pursuit by Border Patrol on September 18, 2021.
The deadly crash occurred at approximately 12:46 p.m. near mile marker 19 on New Mexico state road 11 after Border Patrol initiated a high-speed vehicle pursuit. The vehicle rolled over and burst into flames. Two people were killed and eight others were severely injured. Just prior to the crash a Border Patrol agent conducted a dangerous maneuver that is not authorized in the recently released CBP vehicle pursuit policy. It is not clear if the agent sought or obtained supervisory approval for the maneuver.
Border Patrol vehicle pursuits have resulted in dozens of fatalities in the last few years. A 2019 ProPublica study examining more than 500 incidents found that one in three Border Patrol vehicle pursuits ended in a crash.
Rebecca Sheff, senior staff attorney at the ACLU of New Mexico, issued the following statement:
“This is yet another example of a dangerous vehicle pursuit by Border Patrol agents with a disastrous outcome. We are asking that CBP’s Office of Professional Responsibility promptly engage in a thorough investigation of this deadly high-speed pursuit to ensure that the agents involved in this incident are held accountable and reforms are undertaken to prevent similar dangerous vehicle pursuits from occuring in the future. Deaths due to Border Patrol vehicle pursuits occur with disturbing frequency. The family members of the people who died, those who were injured, and border communities deserve answers about this incident.”