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United Nations visit will focus on 'excessive use of force' at U.S.-Mexico border

A group of activists and community members from both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border is heading to the United Nations in Geneva this month to talk about use-of-force by U.S. law enforcement. 

The trip is part of what’s called the Start With Dignity campaign — an effort made up of rights groups on both sides of the border.

Roxanna Altholz with, co-director of the International Human Rights Law Clinic at UC Berkeley, says activists will present three  reports documenting interactions with local and federal law enforcement to the U.N. Human Rights Committee.

"We’ll focus specifically on excessive use of force by U.S. law enforcement and how the law shields U.S. law enforcement from accountability for killings and other grave acts," she said. 

Altholz says the U.S. legal standard does not allow agents to be held accountable in court. She says that’s a violation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, a rights treaty signed by the U.S. and other nations.

Woman shot in the head at border to testify

The reports include testimonies from shootings along the border — like one from Marisol García Alcántara of Mexico City. She was shot in the head when a Border Patrol agent fired into a car being detained in Nogales, Arizona. She was deported less than a month later, after receiving surgery.

Alcántara and Altholz are some of about a dozen community members and activists from both sides of the border going to the U.N. this month. During a virtual press conference announcing the trip, Alcántara said two years after the shooting, she suffers from headaches and seizures. She said she's going to Geneva to share her story.

"We should all live with dignity, but migrants cannot," she said. "We want them to listen to us, that we, too, have a voice."

U.N. report: Systemic racism pervades U.S. police and justice systems

Alisa Reznick is a senior field correspondent covering stories across southern Arizona and the borderlands for the Tucson bureau of KJZZ's Fronteras Desk.