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Rights group says discrimination occurring along Mexican border

Over the past few years, the United States has significantly tightened immigration security along the 2,000-mile Mexican border, with stepped-up fencing, patrols and surveillance technology. But an American human rights group says that discrimination is also taking place along the border, and people's rights are being violated.

A report by Amnesty International USA accuses federal, state and local authorities of practicing discriminatory behavior against Hispanic and Native Americans living near the border. Additionally, the civil rights group says that the security along the border has put the lives of immigrants at risk by forcing them to cross over dangerous land to enter the country.

The group conducted a study concluding that people living along the Mexican border are "disproportionately affected by a range of immigration-control measures, resulting in a pattern of human rights violations."

For example, these minorities are said to be harassed by border patrol agents for not speaking enough English or only carrying tribal identification papers. The study concluded that racial profiling is also common along the border.

Additionally, the group's report said that the government is violating the human rights of immigrants by forcing them to risk their lives by entering the country through "the most hostile terrain ... including crossings over vast deserts, rivers and high mountains in searing heat."

Amnesty International advised that all immigration enforcement programs should be temporarily shut down until it can be determined that the border policies are not "leading to the deaths of migrants."

A spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security said that Amnesty International's report lacked credibility. He said that the findings were supported "almost entirely on either outdated information or anonymous anecdotes that can be neither investigated nor resolved."

Source: Reuters, "Rights group accuses U.S. of abuses on Mexican border," Time Gaynor, March 28, 2012

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