Inter-American Commission Dismisses ACLU Challenge to Operation Gatekeeper
In 1999, the ACLU of San Diego and Imperial Counties and the California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation asked the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to find that Operation Gatekeeper was needlessly and illegally killing migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border.
The U.S. strategy of “redirecting” undocumented foot traffic away from border cities and into ever more remote and punishing places resulted in a sharp increase in deaths, mostly from dehydration and heat stroke.
The ACLU’s and CRALF’s 1999 petition to the Commission states that the U.S. has abused its right to control the border by resorting to a strategy that maximizes the risk to life of people who cross the border illegally in search of work, guaranteeing that hundreds of them will die, year after year.
In a disappointing decision today, the Commission dismissed the petition for supposedly failing to exhaust available remedies in the U.S. legal system.
The ACLU argued that the United States Constitution grants the political branches of the federal government plenary power over matters of immigration and border enforcement, including the adoption of immigration enforcement policies that would be unacceptable if applied to citizens. This “judicial doctrine of nonjudiciability” precludes the domestic courts of the United States from considering the human right implications of border enforcement strategies such as Operation Gatekeeper. The Commission disagreed.