Luz Rojas (center), mother of Anastasio Hernandez Rojas, accompanied by her son Bernardo Hernandez Rojas (left) and Andrea Guerrero (right), Executive Director of the Equality Alliance prepare for their trip to Washington DC to advocate for justice in the death of Anastasio Hernandez Rojas.Photo: AFSC / Pedro Rios
More than a dozen members of Congress are urging a federal investigation into the killing of Anastasio Hernandez Rojas, the 42-year old San Diego resident who died after a brutal beating at the San Ysidro Port-of-Entry. Their letters to the Justice Department came as Rojas’ mother came to Washington on May 10, traditionally Mother’s Day in Latin American countries.
The 15 members of the House of Representatives and U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) cited a recent PBS television program on the case which included new video footage that graphically demonstrates how federal agents beat and Tasered Anastasio as he lay handcuffed and hogtied.
In addition to the call for a full and thorough investigation, the lawmakers also questioned the pattern of Border Patrol violence that in recent years have left seven other border residents dead, suggesting systemic problems with the agency’s policies.
Their letters coincided with the D.C. visit by Luz Rojas, mother of Anastasio Hernandez Rojas, who met with congressional representatives and other officials seeking support. Accompanied by her son, Bernardo, and members of the Southern Border Communities Coalition, Presente.org, and the Northern Border Coalition, Mrs. Rojas spoke to the media in front of the U.S. Department of Justice.
There she delivered more than 33,000 petition signatures gathered from across the country in support of justice for Anastasio. “I hope that my demand is favorably received. I would take this as a Mothers’ Day gift, because my son’s life is priceless,” she said.
Since the May 28, 2010 killing, AFSC staff has helped the Hernandez Rojas family organize community vigils, marches, and press conferences in San Diego. As a coalition partner of the Southern Border Communities Coalition, AFSC has worked with sister organizations across the U.S.-Mexico border not only to highlight the case but also to question the culture of impunity that has allowed border agents to apparently get away with murder.
The congressional letters to the Attorney General, Department of Homeland Security and the Office of Inspector General are an important step forward in proving that oversight and accountability measures are absolutely necessary to hold border agents accountable for criminal behavior.
As Mrs. Rojas and her son travel back to San Diego, they said they return with hope and promise that more public officials are committed to their cause. As the two-year anniversary of Anastasio’s death nears, the AFSC’s Pedro Rios says, “We have a renewed commitment to stand with the Hernandez Rojas family to ensure that border agents are not above the law.”