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Border & Immigration

Family of Undocumented Immigrant Files Wrongful-Death Lawsuit

Family of Undocumented Immigrant Files Wrongful-Death Lawsuit
A wrongful-death lawsuit against the federal government was filed yesterday, charging that Anastacio Hernandez, an undocumented immigrant was brutally beaten by immigration agents last year.

Anastacio Hernandez was a 42-year-old construction worker who had lived in San Diego for more than 20 years. He was deported to Mexico and caught by Border Patrol as he tried to cross back illegally in May of last year.

His family claims that what happened next eventually killed Hernandez: he was allegedly shot with a stun gun and severely beaten by numerous agents. The cororner's report, however, noted that the victim had an underlying heart condition and tests for methamphetamine were positive -- elements which played an unknown role in the death.

"The issue in this case is not whether the United States has the right to enforce its immigration laws -- of course it does," said Eugene Iredale, the attorney representing the Hernandez family. "The issue is whether in the enforcement of those laws, we're going to have humane, fair law enforcement or we're going to have brutality."


This isn't the first allegation of excessive violence used by Border Patrol agents against immigrant detainees. But the case stands out because of the amount of force allegedly used.

"The police and federal law enforcement officials have a difficult job and they have the right to use reasonable force in self-defense," said Iredale. "But they don't have the right to use excessive force, grossly disproportionate force, deadly force when deadly force is not required."

Officials of U.S. Customs and Border Protection aren't commenting on the pending litigation. But Iredale said the family hopes to gain access to police reports and names of the agents involved in the case.