WASHINGTON, United States (AFP) - Video footage aired by NBC on Wednesday (April 11) shows US Border Patrol agents escorting an injured and mentally disturbed man back into Mexico in apparent violation of international agreements.
The event, which took place in late March 2017 in Calexico, California, surfaced as part of a lawsuit filed by Mexican authorities against the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency.
The footage shows two uniformed Border Patrol agents forcefully escorting a thin, bare-chested man with an injured knee towards a Mexican border crossing station.
As they reach the station the Mexican officers then tell them that the man must be processed through a Mexican consulate. Many people illegally crossing into the United States are actually from Central America, and must be deported to their countries of origin, not Mexico.
"But why would I have to call the consulate? He's not in my custody," one of the US agents says, as he argues in Spanish with the Mexican border crossing officer.
"Well, I think he's Mexican. He's going back to his country," the US agent continues.
"You don't even know if he's Mexican or not," the Mexican officer says, insisting that the US agents must follow protocol.
Finally, apparently deterred by the reaction of the Mexican border officers, the US agents leave and the man wanders into the road.
According to NBC News, the US agents left the man in a park on the US side of the border. He was eventually picked up and identified as a Mexican national who had been arrested 16 times and sent back to Mexico.
This is an "isolated incident," a CBP spokesman told NBC News.
Relations between the United States and Mexico have been tense since Donald Trump won presidential election in 2016 with a campaign heavy on anti-Mexican rhetoric and promises to build a border wall.
"As ridiculous as it sounds, the laws of our country do not easily allow us to send those crossing our Southern Border back where they came from," Trump tweeted on April 2.
"A whole big wasted procedure must take place," he complained.
Trump has loudly complained about security on the Mexican border, and recently ordered National Guard soldiers to the region to combat drug trafficking and illegal immigration.