Mexico probes agent pursuit of migrant into river

AP News
Posted: Mar 25, 2011 5:56 PM
Mexico probes agent pursuit of migrant into river

Mexican authorities have launched investigations into the behavior of an immigration agent who pursued a migrant into the river that marks the border between Mexico and Guatemala, and then stood by the bank as the woman drifted away, officials said Friday.

A video shot by bystanders shows the agent standing on the bank of the Usumacinta river as the female migrant barely stays afloat. She apparently jumped into the river to avoid capture, and was eventually rescued by a boater.

The agent is seen in the video, which was posted on the internet, with a machete that he lay on a stone wall, but it is unclear whether he threatened the woman with it. Mexican immigration agents normally do not carry weapons.

Mexico's National Migration Institute announced that it was investigating the incident. And the government's National Human Rights Commission said Friday it is also investigating whether her rights were violated.

In response to complaints that police and gangs abuse the tens of thousands of migrants who cross the country to reach the United States, Mexico changed its laws and no longer consider illegal immigration a crime.

The issue of migrant abuse _ which Mexico complains bitterly about when it occurs in the United States _ came to the fore following the massacre of 72 illegal Central and South American migrants last August at a ranch in the northern border state of Tamaulipas. A drug gang is suspected in those killings.