April 1996, Volume 2, Number 2
On April 1, two white Riverside county sheriff's deputies were
taped beating two unauthorized Mexican aliens who had led them on an
80 mile high-speed chase after trying to evade an INS checkpoint in
southern California. The aliens who were beaten were in the cab of a
pickup truck that had 18 aliens crammed under a camper shell.
The INS stopped chasing illegal immigrants attempting to evade
them in 1992, after a chase killed several innocent bystanders by a
southern California school.
The Mexican Foreign Ministry denounced the beating as a "flagrant
violation of human rights," and urged is consul in Los Angeles to
contact Mexican-American and Hispanic organizations to protest the
beatings. The Mexican network Televisa led its newscasts with the
beating story the entire first week of April, and several Mexican
politicians spoke of a US "war" against Mexicans.
Other Mexicans said that Mexican anger should be directed against
the Mexican government, because it failed to create an economy that
offers enough jobs in Mexico.
Immigrant rights groups did protest the beatings, calling them the
"Rodney King" incident that may wake up the nation to violence
against illegal immigrants in the same way that the 1991 tape of
police beating of King illustrated police violence against African
Americans. Several groups asserted that hate crimes and police
beatings of immigrants have increased since Prop. 187 was approved by
voters in November 1994. There were several demonstrations in Los
Angeles, including a 6,000-person march on April 6, 1996.
A counter demonstration in support of law enforcement was
organized by many of the groups that supported Proposition 187. They
argued that immigration rights advocates were trying to use the
beatings to discourage Congress from enacting new measures to curb
On April 4, the two immigrants who were beaten filed a $70 million
lawsuit against Riverside county, and were offered a place to stay by
actor Marlin Brando.
On April 6, a stolen camper with 26 unauthorized aliens crashed
attempting to evade the Border Patrol, killing eight. One of those
injured was a Mexican national being paid $200 to guide the illegal
aliens around a Border Patrol checkpoint to Los Angeles.
On April, 14, 1996, Mexico announced a series of agreements with
the US aimed at preventing more migrant beatings and deadly car
crashes. In the future, Mexican officials will lecture Border Patrol
agents in training about Mexico and Mexican migrants.
Mark Fineman, "US, Mexico try to keep border calm," Los Angeles
Times, April 15, 1996; Howard LaFranchi, "Mexico calls US xenophobic
for incidents on fleeing aliens," Christian Science Monitor, April
12, 1996. "Pursuit of illegals ends in tragedy," Los Angeles Times,
April 7, 1996. "Immigrants sneaking over the border rent kids to
avoid detention," Associated Press, April 6, 1996. Eric Malnic and
Edward Boyar, "Deputies' clubbing of 2 suspects taped," Los Angeles
Times, April 2, 1996.