A historic 2016 international case brought by the family of Anastasio Hernandez Rojas, who was murdered while in the custody of U.S. Homeland Security personnel, against the United States through the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights took a major step in that effort last week, submitting affidavits from three former senior Department of Homeland Security officials directly involved in Hernandez’s case to the commission, reports The Intercept. Those officials accuse the Border Patrol, as well as current and former officials at the highest levels of DHS, of engaging in obstruction of justice to protect the agents involved in Hernandez’s death and the reputation of their agency. The officials alleged that rather than an isolated incident, the assault and murder it was emblematic of an entrenched pattern in matters involving the Border Patrol, particularly in cases of lethal force. The case argues that Hernandez was tortured and that as an undocumented person, his killing was part of a broader pattern of violence against migrants made possible by the U.S. government’s failure to rein in its border security forces.
The claims came from John Dupuy, the current deputy director at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Enterprise Assessments, who served as assistant inspector general for investigations at DHS inspector general’s office from 2012 to 2015; James Tomsheck, who served as assistant commissioner of Customs and Border Protection Internal Affairs at the time of Hernandez’s killing; and James Wong, the former CBP deputy assistant commissioner for internal affairs, who oversaw the use-of-force investigation into the case. In an 81-page brief, they claim that, without any legal authority, the Border Patrol improperly inserted itself into the Hernandez investigation, destroyed evidence, and used an administrative subpoena, potentially illegally, to obtain Hernandez’s autopsy. (Administrative subpoenas are meant for immigration cases, not for death investigations.)