Press Releases

Reps. Roybal-Allard & Jayapal Urge FBI to Thoroughly & Fairly Investigate Border Patrol Killing of Immigrant Claudia Patricia Gómez González

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Washington, June 1, 2018 | Ben Soskin ((202) 225-1766) | comments
Today, Congresswomen Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-40) and Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), the co-chairs of the Women’s Working Group on Immigration Reform, sent a letter to Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director Christopher Wray urging a thorough, transparent, and just FBI investigation of the U.S. Border Patrol’s killing of Claudia Patricia Gómez González.  The congresswomen also requested a complete briefing on the FBI’s investigative process and findings at the conclusion of the investigation.

On May 23, 2018, a U.S. Border Patrol agent shot and killed Ms. Gómez, an immigrant from Guatemala.  The Border Patrol also detained three other Guatemalan immigrants at the scene of the shooting.  Subsequently, the Border Patrol changed their statement about the circumstances leading up to this fatal shooting.

“In light of U.S. Border Patrol’s changing narrative about the events that unfolded, we write to express our concern that your investigation could be compromised by misinformation and the intimidation of witnesses who could be deported before they are able to give their testimony,” the co-chairs noted in their letter to FBI Director Wray.  “The death of an immigrant seeking a better life in the United States is heartbreaking.  Moreover, an act of force that results in the death of an individual at the hands of our nation’s U.S. Border Patrol merits a thorough and just investigation so that policymakers can understand the circumstances that led to the loss of life and work to prevent it from happening again.”

In the Fiscal Year 2018 Omnibus, Congresswoman Roybal-Allard, in her capacity as Ranking Member on the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security, secured report language that directs U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to report on the death of any individuals in their custody, or following the use of force by their personnel, within 24 hours of the individual’s death.  The language also directs CBP to make public any information regarding any allegations of corruption or use of force.

A full copy of the letter can be found below.

June 1, 2018

Director Christopher Wray
Federal Bureau of Investigation
935 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20535

We write today as co-chairs of the Women’s Working Group on Immigration Reform to express our concern with the recent U.S. Border Patrol shooting that ended in the death of Claudia Patricia Gómez González, an immigrant from San Juan Ostuncalo, Guatemala. In light of U.S. Border Patrol’s changing narrative about the events that unfolded, we write to express our concern that your investigation could be compromised by misinformation and the intimidation of witnesses who could be deported before they are able to give their testimony. We also write to urge the FBI’s investigation to be transparent and include all relevant witnesses. 

On May 23, 2018, a U.S. Border Patrol agent shot and killed Ms. Gómez near Rio Bravo, Texas. Following the shooting, the Border Patrol released an initial statement that the agent was “under attack by multiple subjects using blunt objects” and that the agent fired his weapon “fatally wounding one of the assailants.” The statement also reports that U.S. Border Patrol arrested three undocumented immigrants in the aftermath of the shooting. 

However, on Friday, May 25, 2018, U.S. Customs and Border Protection cancelled a press conference to address the shooting and issued a revised statement. This statement changed the narrative of the shooting, reporting that the agent was “allegedly assaulted” by a group of immigrants that “rushed him.” This statement does not mention blunt objects. Additionally, the revised statement reports that the firearm struck “one member of the group,” rather than categorizing Gómez as an assailant as in the original statement.

The death of an immigrant seeking a better life in the United States is heartbreaking. Moreover, an act of force that results in the death of an individual at the hands of our nation’s U.S. Border Patrol merits a thorough and just investigation so that policymakers can understand the circumstances that led to the loss of life and work to prevent it from happening again. Therefore, at the conclusion of the investigation we request a complete briefing on your investigative process and findings. 

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Sincerely,


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