PHOENIX -- The mother of a 19-year-old man fatally shot in the back by a U.S. Border Patrol agent has sued the federal government and the agent himself, claiming it was "an appalling use of excessive force" because her son was unarmed, had his back to the agent and posed no threat.
Guadalupe Guerrero said Monday that the Border Patrol had no right to take her son's life, even if he had marijuana in his truck as they say – though she disputed the allegation.
A Border Patrol agent identified by police as Lucas Tidwell shot Carlos La Madrid three times – twice in the back and once in the thigh – as he climbed a ladder on the U.S.-Mexico border fence in southeastern Arizona on March 21, 2011.
The Arizona man, who did not have a weapon, fell to the ground and died about five hours later at a hospital.
"Why did they kill him? Who are they to play God?" Guerrero said in Spanish on what would have been her son's 21st birthday.
The family was spending the day at the cemetery where he is buried in Douglas. He was born there nearly 10 years after his mother came to the U.S. from Agua Prieta in the northeastern Mexican state of Sonora.
"I say he didn't have drugs, but let's suppose he did," Guerrero said. "Let's suppose he had 40 pounds of marijuana. You think that's dangerous enough to kill a young boy, an American citizen? Why not send him to jail?"
Border Patrol spokesman Mario Escalante declined to talk about the case, citing the pending litigation. A message left for Tidwell in Las Cruces, N.M., was not immediately returned Monday.
It's unclear whether Tidwell still is a Border Patrol agent.
Although the amount of money that Guerrero is seeking was not listed in two lawsuits against the government and the agent, both filed last month, Guerrero said she wants to use the money to start a nonprofit to help poor children.
"That's the only thing the United States government cares about – money," she said.
She said that La Madrid's two younger siblings, his grandmother and the rest of the family have been devastated by his death. She said he was studying agriculture in college in hopes of having his own farm.
A police report obtained by the AP in November from the Cochise County Sheriff's Office shows that Douglas police officers were responding to a tip about a car loading drugs when they tried to stop La Madrid and another teen, 17-year-old Jesus Manuel Chino Lino.
La Madrid, who was driving, set off a chase by police and the Border Patrol that ended with a collision between Tidwell's and La Madrid's vehicle.
La Madrid and Chino Lino ran from the vehicle, and La Madrid began climbing a ladder propped on the border wall. Simultaneously, a man who was sitting on the border wall began throwing rocks at Tidwell's vehicle, hitting the windshield twice, the report said.
That's when Tidwell shot La Madrid, whose back was turned and who hadn't thrown any rocks, according to the report.
At least one bullet was fired from inside the vehicle, police said.
Chino Lino later told investigators that he crossed the border earlier with a friend who was packing marijuana and helped load it into the car that La Madrid was driving. He said he didn't know La Madrid.
Police reported finding a burlap sack of marijuana weighing 48 pounds in La Madrid's car.
The sheriff's report did not include an interview with Tidwell, which sheriff's spokeswoman Carol Capas said was because he refused to talk with investigators.
The report also said that the Border Patrol did not cooperate with sheriff's investigators, telling one officer that "she could not speak to anyone, or do anything, without the FBI."
The sheriff's office was in charge of investigating the shooting, while the FBI was investigating the rock-throwing.
The sheriff's office turned the case over to the Cochise County Attorney's Office, which then turned it over to the U.S. Attorney's Office to consider whether to file charges against Tidwell. U.S. Attorney's spokesman William Solomon did not immediately respond to a request about the status of the case.
Rick Gonzales, a Tucson attorney representing Guerrero in the lawsuits, said that the agent was "grossly negligent in shooting this kid."
"It's a hugely, hugely tragic case," he said. "You don't shoot a 19-year-old kid in the back three times who's running from you in a marijuana case."
The Naturalization Act of 1790
The Naturalization Act of 1790 was our country's first set of laws dealing with citizenship. Applicants had to be "<a href="http://rs6.loc.gov/cgi-bin/ampage?collId=llsl&fileName=001/llsl001.db&recNum=226 " target="_hplink">a free white person</a>" of "good moral character." This excluded indentured servants and slaves. Good moral character was substantiated by establishing residence for at least one year in the state from where he was applying, and at least two years of residence in the country. The Naturalization Act of 1795 would extend that requirement to five years, and is still standard today.
The Fourteenth Amendment, 1868
A Reconstruction Amendment that was added to the U.S. Constitution following the Civil War, the Citizenship Clause of the 14th Amendment establishes for the first time that children born on U.S. soil would be conferred U.S. citizenship regardless of their parent's citizenship status, race, or place of birth. Last year, Rep. Steve King (R-IA) introduced the <a href="http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/112/hr140 " target="_hplink">Birthright Citizenship Act of 2011</a> to Congress, and challenged this. The bill would require that at least one parent be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident for a child to be granted citizenship. According to the <a href="http://www.opencongress.org/bill/112-h140/text " target="_hplink">bill's text</a>, the Birthright Citizenship Act of 2011 would amend the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952, and "clarify those classes of individuals born in the United States who are nationals and citizens of the United States at birth." Prior to this, Rep. Nathan Deal (R-GA) <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/05/26/nathan-deal-georgia-lawma_n_207485.html " target="_hplink">introduced</a> a similar <a href="http://www.opencongress.org/bill/111-h1868/show" target="_hplink">bill</a> in 2009.
The Naturalization Act of 1870
The Naturalization Act of 1870<a href="http://thepoliticsofimmigration.org/pages/chronology.htm " target="_hplink"> explicitly extended</a> naturalization laws to "aliens of African nativity and persons of African descent." This meant that for the first time, African-American children would be conferred citizenship upon birth. Asian immigrants and other people of color are excluded per the Naturalization Acts of 1790 and 1795.
The Page Act of 1875
Named after Republican Representative Horace F. Page, this is the first U.S. federal immigration law to explicitly prohibit the immigration of a particular group: persons of Asian descent. Primarily meant to limit Chinese immigrant labor and prostitution, the Page Act prohibited the immigration of: (1) contracted labor from "China, Japan, or any Oriental country" that was not "free and voluntary," (2) Chinese prostitution and (3) criminals and women who would engage in prostitution. Ultimately, the <a href="http://www.uchastings.edu/racism-race/pageact.html " target="_hplink">Page Act</a> severely <a href="http://immigration-online.org/228-page-act-united-states-1875.html " target="_hplink">restricted</a> the immigration of Asian women. Only 136 of the the nearly 40,000 Chinese immigrants who arrived in the months before the bill's enforcement were women. And, it would pave the way for the Chinese Exclusion Act. In this picture, Michael Lin, chair of the 1882 Project, a coalition of rights groups seeking a statement of regret over that year's Chinese Exclusion Act, speaks on May 26, 2011 in Washington, DC, at the US House of Representatives in front of a reproduction of a 19th-century sign that aimed at rousing up sentiment against Chinese Americans. Lawmakers introduced a bill that would offer an official statement of regret for the act, which banned further immigration of Chinese to the United States and ended citizenship rights for ethnic Chinese. (AFP PHOTO/SHAUN TANDON).
The Chinese Exclusion Act, 1882
Signed by President Chester A. Arthur, the <a href="http://www.pbs.org/weta/thewest/resources/archives/seven/chinxact.htm " target="_hplink">Chinese Exclusion Act</a> was the first federal immigration law to prohibit immigration on the basis of race. The bill barred all Chinese laborers, skilled and unskilled, from immigrating to the U.S. for ten years. It was made permanent by 1903, and was not lifted until the 1943 Magnuson Act. The 1898 Supreme Court <a href="http://ocp.hul.harvard.edu/immigration/exclusion.html " target="_hplink">decision</a> in <em>United States v. Wong Kim Ark</em> finally extended naturalization laws to persons of Chinese descent by ruling that anyone born in the United States was indeed a U.S. citizen. This editorial cartoon from 1882 shows a Chinese man being excluded from entry to the "Golden Gate of Liberty." The sign next to the iron door reads, "Notice--Communist, Nihilist, Socialist, Fenian & Hoodlum welcome. But no admittance to Chinamen." At the bottom, the caption reads, "THE ONLY ONE BARRED OUT. Enlightened American Statesman--'We must draw the line <em>somewhere</em>, you know.'" (Image Source: Frank Leslie's illustrated newspaper, vol. 54 (1882 April 1), p. 96. [Public domain], via <a href="http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:The_only_one_barred_out_cph.3b48680.jpg" target="_hplink">Wikimedia Commons</a>).
The Naturalization Act of 1906
The Naturalization Act of 1906 further <a href="http://www.understandingrace.org/history/gov/eastern_southern_immigration.html" target="_hplink">defined</a> the naturalization process: the ability to speak English was made a <a href="http://www.enotes.com/topic/Naturalization_Act_of_1906" target="_hplink">requisite</a> for immigrants to adjust their status.
The Immigration Act of 1924
U.S. President Coolidge signed this U.S. federal <a href="http://history.state.gov/milestones/1921-1936/ImmigrationAct " target="_hplink">bill</a> into law. It capped the number of immigrants who could be admitted entry to the U.S. and barred immigration of persons who were not eligible for naturalization. And, as the Naturalization Act of 1790 required, an immigrant had to be white in order to naturalize. The quotas varied by country. Image Source: Flickr Creative Commons, <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/nycmarines/6306315902/" target="_hplink">NYCMarines</a>.
The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 (The McCarran-Walter Act)
The <a href="https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&q=cache:zwaVG82lZisJ:www-rohan.sdsu.edu/dept/polsciwb/brianl/docs/1952McCarranWaltersAct.pdf+&hl=en&gl=us&pid=bl&srcid=ADGEESjEwx76FIBTixZAfyncZz-1CSuSeciv5qB6vvWTrUfW58XRpXq8zkpnI57XSuuG5Bu-WSySGbEhxYvZxP7y6qDQuOsDhgDa6qUqUaJ8F4imTzKJsVtppHc_-eew2dK6vGhoIUZs&sig=AHIEtbTNQ5GFiNMVS-xyThq8VVSj_gG9KA " target="_hplink">McCarran-Walter Act</a> kept up the controversial Immigration Act of 1924, but <a href="http://history.state.gov/milestones/1945-1952/ImmigrationAct" target="_hplink">formally</a> ended Asian exclusion.
Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965
When President Lyndon Johnson signed the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, it <a href="http://library.uwb.edu/guides/USimmigration/1965_immigration_and_nationality_act.html" target="_hplink">abolished</a> the quota system that favored immigration from Europe and limited immigration from Asia and South America.
Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996
The 1996 <a href="http://www.uscis.gov/ilink/docView/PUBLAW/HTML/PUBLAW/0-0-0-10948.html " target="_hplink">Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act</a> (IIRIRA) is a piece of legislation that <a href="http://library.uwb.edu/guides/usimmigration/1996_illegal_immigration_reform_and_immigrant_responsibility_act.html " target="_hplink">defined</a> an array of issues to do with legal and illegal immigration -- from outlining how border patrol agents should administer visa processing, to the minutiae of how to handle deportation proceedings -- IIRIRA established enforcement and patrolling practices.