A controversial amendment to the 1998 defense authorization bill which would have placed 10,000 American troops on the nation's southern border failed to make it out of joint committee sessions. The measure, which would have significantly blurred the line between the military and domestic law enforcement, and which twice won wide approval in the House, did not appear in the version of the appropriations bill passed by the House this week. The bill will now go to the Senate.
Opposition to the plan seemed to coalesce around the issue of Esequiel Hernandez, the 18 year-old high school student from Redford, Texas who was shot to death earlier this year by a team of camouflaged U.S. marines on a "surveillance" mission near the border earlier this year. Hernandez, who was born in Redford, was tending his family goats when he was killed.
Kevin Zeese, President of Common Sense for Drug Policy, recently returned from a town meeting in Redford where the possibility of a greater role for the military was high on the list of concerns. "The town was definitely worried about the possibility," Zeese told The Week Online. "The military had been talking about 'rules of engagement' and so forth. It was a real jolt to be listening to American citizens who were justifiably frightened by what they viewed as an impending invasion by their own military." He continued, "While I was down there, I stood on the spot where the young man was killed. From that spot, you could see the spot where he was born, the house that he spent his life in, and the place he was laid to rest. It was very powerful. The ironic thing is that he died virtually in the shadow of an old barracks... a remnant of the last time that the town was occupied by American troops during the Mexican- American war."
More info on the Esequiel Hernandez tragedy is available at http://www.mapinc.org/DPFT/hernandez/.