On August 13, Reuters ran "Mexico protests US border agents' pepper weapons":
Mexican opposition legislators are up in arms over the US Border Patrol's use of weapons firing plastic bullets filled with pepper powder against Mexican migrants as they cross the border illegally... nonlethal weapons have been used sporadically for at least two years...
"We will not permit these kinds of acts that violate human rights," Sadot Sanchez, who heads the Senate's human rights commission and is a member of PRI, the opposition Institutional Revolutionary Party, said Wednesday.
Last week, Zacatecas state Governor Ricardo Monreal fired off a telegram to US President George W. Bush, describing the use of the weapon as "xenophobic and racist" and "reminiscent of the Kristallnacht [purges] in Nazi Germany."
... Agents of the US Border Patrol's Tucson sector in Arizona, the most heavily crossed route for illegal migrants, have had the weapons for the past two years but officials say there are strict regulations on their use.
The weapons "are only ever used to defend yourself, another agent, or an innocent third party from assault," spokesman Andy Adame said on Wednesday.
"They allow us to disarm migrants throwing softball sized rocks at agents, without using deadly force against them."
"High-level" meetings were held:
U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Roger Noriega met with Mexican Ambassador Carlos de Icaza in Washington on Friday [August 13], after Mexico demanded high-level diplomatic consultations on the issue, an official at the U.S. Embassy in Mexico confirmed...
"They are using our Mexican countrymen as targets in a modern, almost festive hunt with rubber bullets," Mexican lawmaker Cesar Camacho told local media...
What are some of the cases these non-lethal weapons are intended to address?
Here are some pictures of Border Patrol vehicles damaged by rocks.
Smugglers have been ramming Border Patrol vehicles with cars and chasing down agents while driving or on foot. There also has been a rise in smugglers attacking agents with softball-sized rocks to divert their attention from border crossers...
Steve McPartland, a Border Patrol agent in California, said he can't count the number of times he has been attacked with rocks. The most memorable of those times, though, was three years ago, when a group of illegal immigrants trying to cross in Douglas threw dozens of rocks at him at once.
"I was absolutely terrified," he said. "You're just thinking, 'God, I hope the other guys get here quick.' "
In the past 10 years, McPartland said rockings in San Diego have been occurring almost daily. The rockings and other violent crimes have, however, slowed down somewhat since the 1990s when the Border Patrol launched operations that funneled many smugglers from California and Texas into Arizona...
On July 22, an immigrant smuggler threw five softball-size rocks at an agency helicopter 30 feet in the air before he was arrested. If one of the rocks had hit a main rotor, Adame said the helicopter could have crashed.
Eighty-nine agents have been assaulted so far this year in an escalating series of attacks by the smugglers - some shot at with automatic weapons, while others were attacked with block-sized rocks or had their vehicles rammed by armed smugglers, Border Patrol Chief David V. Aguilar said yesterday...
Right about now, three or four of you might be saying something like, "President Bush is going to go Ike on them! If they don't want to play paintball, how about we switch to RPGs!"
However, the rest of you probably know where this story is going. You can probably already feel the "compassion" welling up. The only slightly surprising thing is the chosen spokesman.
OK, enough keeping you in suspense.
MEXICO CITY (AP) - President Bush's nephew, campaigning for overseas votes in Mexico on Saturday, called the federal policy of arming U.S. Border Patrol agents with plastic pellet guns ``reprehensible.''
Speaking in a mix of English and sometimes-halting Spanish, George P. Bush said his uncle was not to blame for the gun policy, which has angered Mexicans. He instead blamed it on ``some local INS (Immigration and Naturalization Service) guy who's trying to be tough, act macho.''
``If there has been American approval for this policy, that is reprehensible,'' Bush said of the guns, essentially paintball projectiles filled with chile powder. ``It's kind of barbarous.''
The pellet guns, which were approved at the federal level, have been used on a trial basis since 2001 in California and Arizona. The U.S. Border Patrol fired the pepper-balls in 81 instances in 2002-03 and reported no deaths or severe injuries...
The younger Bush, whose father is Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and mother, Columba, is originally from Mexico, acknowledged at a news conference that the war in Iraq is not popular in Mexico but defended the military action, saying ``we're almost done with it.''
He also acknowledged that ``there are some people in our (Republican) party who don't see the benefits of immigration,'' but promised that President Bush was a proponent of immigration reform.
I'm just surprised it took eight days for Bush - or, in this specific case, someone named Bush - to come out against the weapons.
For further reading, see "The Bush Betrayal: Maybe He's Not Thinking But Feeling-Family Feeling, Mexican Style". Also, the post "Nanci Pelosi, supporter of sweatshops, opponent of citizens and laws" reports on remarks Nanci Pelosi made in Mexico. While her remarks were about the Wal*Mart raids, I could see either her or George P. making each others' comments.
UPDATE: The S.F. Chronical offers "George P. Bush accepts criticism of some U.S. policy during Mexico campaign trip." It's also an AP report from the same author as the one linked above. And, it's fundamentally the same as the report above. The report above is also the same report featured in dozens of papers. For some reason, the AP report in the Chronical has a different title and appears to have been rewritten a bit. It also has a couple additional quotes from GPB:
[GPB] told a news conference Saturday that his uncle, if re-elected, would turn the focus of foreign policy "back to this hemisphere..."
On Friday, speaking upon arriving in Mexico City, the younger Bush noted that "if there's an election like the election of 2000, each vote will count, especially in Florida."
Keep up the outreach!
UPDATE 2: Michelle Malkin comments.
Immigration2004 · Sat, 08/21/2004 - 19:09 · Importance: 1