431 Records of Alleged Abusive or Improper Conduct

Examples of abuses or other behaviors indicating need for reform at U.S. border and migration institutions (RSS feed)

Early January, 2024

Among various cases reported by the Daily Mail on January 1, 2024, regarding the illegal return of asylum-seeking migrants at the El Paso border, is that of a Venezuelan family stopped by a Border Patrol agent while crossing a barbed wire fence onto U.S. soil. The family, consisting of a mother, father, and children ages 1 and 4, was forced to return back to Mexico without the opportunity to request asylum, even though they were physically within the United States. According to U.S. and international law, migrants who express fear of return must be given the opportunity to make an asylum claim prior to deportation once on U.S. soil.

—Martinez, Maryann. “Border Patrol Agent Breaks Law by Turning Away Asylum-Seeking Migrants.” Mail Online, January 2, 2024. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-12915159/Border-Patrol-agent-illegally-turns-away-asylum-seeking-migrants-Texas.html.

Sector(s): El Paso

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Denial of Access to Asylum

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: Family Unit, Venezuela

December 19, 2023

A Texas Public Radio report described the case of a migrant woman and child who were recorded by eyewitnesses pleading Border Patrol officers in a nearby airboat for help as they appeared to be drowning in the Rio Grande. Eyewitnesses stated that both the woman and child “went under for a while” and then resurfaced on the water, while a CBP airboat sped by “a few feet away from the woman and child, offering no assistance”.

TPR reported that the Texas Military Department determined that the woman and child were not in need of medical attention nor experiencing medical distress. From their assessment, they stated the migrants were capable of returning the short distance back to the Mexican shore.

—Pablo De La Rosa, “Video shows Texas National Guard soldiers appearing to ignore a mother and baby’s pleas for help in the Rio Grande” (Texas Public Radio, December 19, 2023) https://www.tpr.org/border-immigration/2023-12-18/video-shows-texas-national-guard-members-appearing-to-ignore-a-mother-and-babys-pleas-for-help-in-the-rio-grande.

Sector(s): Del Rio

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Denial of Protection to Most Vulnerable

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: Family Unit, Female, Mexico

Mid-September, 2023

NBC News, The Hill, and CBS News covered a September 15, 2023 report from a court-appointed juvenile care monitor, who found that CBP continues to separate migrant children from family members while they are in the agency’s custody.

A pediatrician associated with Stanford University, Dr, Paul Wise, interviewed families at a Border Patrol facility in Donna, Texas in August 2023, finding that many children, some as young as 8 years old, were separated from their parents for up to 4 days.

The Flores Settlement Agreement, which dates from 1997, mandates that “minors may not be held in immigration detention for more than 72 hours in most cases”. Wise’s report counted 737 minors who traveled as part of family units at Donna in July. Of these, 697 were held between three to five days, 39 were held for longer than 5 days, and 15 were held for more than 14 days.

Reports have shown that minors traveling as part of family units are detained alone more often, and for longer periods of time, than unaccompanied minors.

While Dr. Wise found that Border Patrol was providing basic necessities to the children in custody, some children were receiving adult meals and some families were not being provided sleeping mats. 

CBP blames a large volume of migrants requiring processing, resulting in overcrowding in CBP “pods,” or groups in which children are placed. When pods are overcrowded, CBP makes an assessment of a child’s age and gender and places them in a pod of children with similar backgrounds, which may involve temporary separations from parents.

In his 71-page report, Dr. Wise noted these separations could affect children’s mental health. After interviewing some of the children, he reported “significant emotional distress related to separation, including sustained crying and disorientation.” This largely arose from their inability to communicate with their parents. In many cases, he noted, both the children and their detention caretakers in the facility were unaware of their visitation rights, which grants families the right to request to see each other while in custody.

While these separations have not been permanent, Dr. Wise’s report reveals that even temporary separations have caused emotional distress.

—Wise, Paul H. “Notice of Filing of Juvenile Care Monitor Report by Dr. Paul H. Wise.” California: United States District Court Central District of California, September 15, 2023. https://storage.courtlistener.com/recap/gov.uscourts.cacd.45170/gov.uscourts.cacd.45170.1360.0.pdf.

—Montoya-Galvez, Camilo. “U.S. Border Agents Are Separating Migrant Children from Their Parents to Avoid Overcrowding, Inspector Finds – CBS News.” CBS News, September 16, 2023. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/migrant-children-separated-parents-u-s-border-agents-overcrowding/.

—Bernal, Rafael. “Children Separated at US-Mexico Border Had ‘No Interaction’ with Their Parents: Report.” Text. The Hill, September 18, 2023. https://thehill.com/latino/4210694-children-separated-at-us-mexico-border-had-no-interaction-with-their-parents-report/.

—Ainsley, Julia. “Border Patrol Temporarily Separated Families This Summer, Court Filing Says.” NBC News, September 18, 2023. https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/border-patrol-temporarily-separated-families-summer-court-filing-says-rcna105524.

Sector(s): Rio Grande Valley

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Conditions in Custody, Family Separation

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: Accompanied Child, Family Unit

Mid-September 2023

Customs and Border Protection (CBP), along with other U.S. law enforcement agencies, bought access to—and has used for years—commercially sourced location data harvested from U.S. citizens’ and others’ smartphones, revealed 404 Media.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report on September 12 finding that the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Office of Intelligence and Analysis (OIA) “is not fully implementing activities intended to monitor whether personnel are following its policies to protect the privacy, civil rights, and civil liberties of U.S. persons, including U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents.” (Original link)

A former location data company worker indicated that Commercial Telemetry Data (CTD) is typically used to track “herds of people”, but that it can be and has been used to monitor specific targets. Reports indicated that data has been used to identify border crossings and consequently arrest people. Since the agencies paid a commercial vendor for the data, they have not been required to acquire a warrant or another court order to obtain the information.

CBP, in response to investigations, stated that “CBP officers, agents, and analysts are provided with access to the vendor’s interface on a case-by-case basis, and are only able to view a limited sample of anonymized data consistent with existing border security or law enforcement operations.”

CBP discontinued the use of CTD at the end Fiscal Year 2023, on September 30, 2023. The reasons for discontinuation are unknown. Nonetheless, CBP publicly stated that if the agency “identifies a critical mission need to re-acquire a vendor who provides CTD, we would ensure CBP would engage Oversight, Legal, and Privacy entities at the agency and department level.”

—“Homeland Security: Office of Intelligence and Analysis Should Improve Privacy Oversight and Assessment of Its Effectiveness.” Washington: U. S. Government Accountability Office, August 28, 2023. https://www.gao.gov/products/gao-23-105475.

—Cox, Joseph. “Customs and Border Protection Says It Will Stop Buying Smartphone Location Data.” 404 Media, September 12, 2023. https://www.404media.co/customs-and-border-protection-stop-buying-location-data

Sector(s): Border-Wide

Agency(ies): CBP, DHS

Event Type(s): Civil Liberties or Privacy Infringement

Last Known Accountability Status: GAO Investigation Closed, Unknown

Victim Classification:

August 8th, 2023

Hundreds of migrants arrived alongside the U.S border in Ciudad Juarez after false rumors spread that the U.S would allow entry to a mass group. 

Hours prior, Border Patrol warned that social media and word-of-mouth rumors were inciting migrants in Juarez to approach the border in hopes of being allowed entry. Although the rumors were false, hundreds walked to the Puente Negro (Black Bridge) and started shaking the fence.

Around 8:50pm, one group allegedly approached the locked gate and began throwing rocks in an attempt to breach the crossing and force a mass entry, federal officials reported. CBP officials consequently began deploying tear gas and firing pepper balls until the crowd dispersed. One video of the incident illustrates the pepper balls mostly striking the fence.

After this incident, the El Paso-based Border Network for Human Rights (BNHR) released a statement condemning the “disproportionate use of force against civilians, children, and migrant families”. BNHR also called on the “Biden Administration and Congress to bring accountability and oversight to federal immigration agencies at the southern border”.

“When we arrived on the ground, there were children in pain crying, entire families in the streets covered with tear gas. I saw children who could not find their parents trapped in the smoke clouds of tear gas,” said BNHR State Programs Director Betty Camargo.

—Gonzalez, Jose Luis. “Spurred by Rumor, Hundreds of Migrants Mass at US Border in Mexico’s Ciudad Juarez.” Reuters, August 8, 2023, sec. Americas. https://www.reuters.com/world/americas/spurred-by-rumor-hundreds-migrants-mass-us-border-mexicos-ciudad-juarez-2023-08-08/.

—Resendiz, Julian. “Border Officers Fire Pepper Balls at Migrants Attempting Mass Entry.” Border Report, August 8, 2023. https://www.borderreport.com/immigration/border-officers-fire-pepper-balls-at-migrants-attempting-mass-entry/.

—Lizarraga, Alan. “BNHR Extremely Concerned about the Disproportionate Use of Force Against Immigrant Families and Asylum Seekers and Renews Call for Oversight and Accountability for the Asylum System.” Border Network for Human Rights, August 8, 2023. https://myemail.constantcontact.com/BNHR-Extremely-Concerned-about-the-Disproportionate-Use-of-Force-Against-Immigrant-Families-and-Asylum-Seekers-and-Renews-Call-f.html?soid=1135012213486&aid=3d4wZysFps0.

Sector(s): El Paso

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Crowd Control, Use of Force

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: Accompanied Child, Family Unit

August 1, 2023

The Houston Chronicle, CNN, and Kristin Etter, an attorney and special project director at Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, revealed that Texas state troopers working under the state government’s “Operation Lone Star” have begun to separate asylum-seeking fathers from their families. According to these accounts, CBP (usually Border Patrol) personnel are on hand to witness these separations; Texas authorities hand over the mothers and children to CBP custody.

On at least 26 occasions since July 10, Texas personnel have stopped parents with children, arrested the fathers for trespassing, and turned the mothers and kids over to Border Patrol. The fathers, taken to state prisons, have no way to know where their children or partners are.

In some cases, the Texas police have entrapped the families into “trespassing” by encouraging them to set foot on state or private property, even cutting concertina wire to allow them to do so. Texas police have also begun wearing green uniforms similar to those of Border Patrol, leading families to believe that they are turning themselves in to federal agents to seek asylum.

— Wermund, Benjamin, and Jhair Romero. “Texas Troopers Separating Families at Border in Apparent Policy Shift, Sources Say.” Houston Chronicle, August 2, 2023. https://www.houstonchronicle.com/politics/texas/article/abbott-border-parent-separations-18272489.php.

— Weisfeldt, Sara, and Rosa Flores. “Texas Is Separating Families at the Border in Apparent ‘harsh and Cruel’ Shift in Policy, Immigration Attorney Says.” CNN, August 2, 2023. https://www.cnn.com/2023/08/02/us/texas-border-policy-separating-families/index.html.

Sector(s): Del Rio

Agency(ies): Border Patrol, Texas State Police

Event Type(s): Family Separation, Lying or Deliberate Misleading

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: Family Unit

End of July 2023

Newsite Government Executive reported that the Department of Homeland Security’s Inspector General Joseph Cuffari agreed to pay a former official $1.17 million in a settlement agreement after allegedly firing her in retaliation for her whistleblower claims.  

Jennifer Costello is a former deputy who worked for the Department of Homeland Security under Inspector General Joseph Cuffari. When Costello discovered that Cufarri had delayed a report into the Trump administration’s family separation policy at the southern border, Costello brought forth complaints to Congress and the Council of Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency in 2019. 

Then, Cuffari launched a third-party investigation into Costello and two of her colleagues, resulting in a $1.4 million cost. The investigation concluded that she had engaged in divisive and unprofessional behavior, which Costello argued was a “farce” launched in retaliation for her claims. She was fired in June 2020. 

According to the official settlement, the Inspector General’s Office did not admit to any guilt or wrongdoing. Instead, Costello’s firing was overturned, and she is now formally listed as an employee who resigned from the DHS. Cufarri continues to push back against allegations that he is an ‘unethical’ employee. He launched a lawsuit against the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency for investigating the IG’s office. This lawsuit was dismissed on November 2nd, 2023 after a judge deemed Cufarri failed to prove that the Council’s investigation was harassment. Despite the investigation, he continues to serve as the Inspector General for the DHS.

Katz, Eric. “DHS Inspector General Pays $1.2M Settlement to Former Deputy.” Government Executive, July 27, 2023. https://www.govexec.com/management/2023/07/dhs-inspector-general-pays-12m-settlement-former-deputy/388892/.

Sector(s):

Agency(ies): DHS

Event Type(s): Civil Liberties or Privacy Infringement, Insubordinate or Highly Politicized Conduct

Last Known Accountability Status: Shared with Congressional Oversight Committees, Under DHS Review

Victim Classification: Advocate or Humanitarian Worker

July 30, 2023

Ronaldo Alvarado, a 25-year-old, off-duty Border Patrol agent, died of gunshot wounds to his head after a confrontation with local police in Brownsville, Texas.

Police responded to a civilian call, reporting that Alvarado, later identified by authorities, was armed, “highly intoxicated”, and “being extremely aggressive.” Police located his vehicle and attempted to pull him over, when Alvarado reportedly began shooting at the police from his vehicle and tried driving away from the scene.

An officer responded by firing back at Alvarado, causing him to slowly drive onto a private parking lot before crashing into a fence four blocks away. Officers found Alvarado “slumped over with an apparent wound to his head.” The responding officer broke through Alvarado’s window to provide emergency medical attention and found Alvarado’s weapon beside him. There is an ongoing investigation into the shooting.

— Morales, Mia. “MPD: Border Patrol Agent Dies from Gunshot after Officer-Involved Shooting.” ValleyCentral.com, August 1, 2023. https://www.valleycentral.com/news/local-news/mpd-man-leads-police-chase-recovering-after-gunshot-wound/.

— MyRGV.com. “Border Patrol Agent Involved in McAllen Police Shooting Dies,” July 31, 2023. https://myrgv.com/local-news/2023/07/31/border-patrol-agent-involved-in-mcallen-police-shooting-dies/.

Sector(s): Rio Grande Valley

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Unethical Off-Duty Behavior

Last Known Accountability Status: Under Local Police investigation

Victim Classification:

July, 2023

Among cases cited in a July 2023 Human Rights First report was that of a Haitian asylum-seeking man to whom CBP officers denied access to emergency medical care, while harassing the humanitarian worker accompanying him.

Even during the Title 42 period, it was customary to be granted access to the Reynosa port of entry for medical emergencies requiring an ambulance. The humanitarian worker, however, was told by CBP officers at the limit line, “This isn’t our problem. If you want, you can bring him to wait in line.” At this time, other vulnerable individuals waiting to access the port of entry without an appointment were being forced to wait for over 72 hours in extreme heat. “If I bring him to wait in this line without medical care, he will die,” the humanitarian worker told CBP officers.

After advocacy by another local humanitarian worker, the ambulance transporting the critical case was approved to cross. Yet upon arrival at the port with the ambulance, the humanitarian worker and the Haitian man were harassed by CBP: “It’s you again?” the CBP officer greeted the humanitarian worker who tried to explain the situation but was silenced. A CBP nurse said, “You call this an emergency?” and removed the Haitian man’s oxygen tubes and ordered him to stand up, lowering him from the bed and off the ambulance. A CBP supervisor refused to provide the Haitian man with a wheelchair and instead forced him to walk and to carry his luggage, prohibiting the humanitarian worker from carrying it for him. The CBP supervisor accepted the man for processing and ordered the local humanitarian worker to leave, threatening her and saying she was prohibited from return:

“You’re already in trouble, so if you don’t want to have more problems, leave. You are no longer allowed in this area.”

— Asencio, Christina, Eleanor Acer, and Rebecca Gendelman. “Refugee Protection Travesty.” New York: Human Rights First, July 12, 2023. https://humanrightsfirst.org/library/refugee-protection-travesty/.

Sector(s): Laredo Field Office

Agency(ies): Office of Field Operations

Event Type(s): Abusive Language, Denial of Medical Care, Denial of Protection to Most Vulnerable, Intimidation of Humanitarian Workers

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: Advocate or Humanitarian Worker, Haiti, Medical Condition, Single Adult

July 2023

In 2022, President Joe Biden signed an executive order commanding federal law enforcement agencies to update their policies on use of force. In February, DHS updated its use-of-force policy to comply with the order. This updated policy limited the use of no-knock entries, required more frequent training for officers and staff, and banned the use of chokeholds unless deadly force was absolutely necessary. 

During April 2022 to July 2023, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) audited four DHS agencies, Customs and Border Protection, the Federal Protective Service, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the Secret Service, in order to survey their compliance with the policy.

In a report, GAO found that  DHS consistently under-reported use of force incidents. For example, in a situation where use of force is used multiple times, DHS only reports it as one count of force, rather than counting each individual incident. In one case involving the Federal Protective Service, the FPS “counted 27 separate use of forces across 15 reports as a single incident”.


After the report’s finding, GAO made two recommendations to  DHS. First, it called on the agency to create a guide on how its agencies should submit data for incidents where force is used multiple times. Secondly, it recommended that the secretary of DHS create and execute a plan in order to analyze the data submitted by the agency.  

In July, DHS agreed to follow the office’s recommendations, stating it would create a plan to analyze data by the end of 2023, issue guidance on its reporting by the beginning of 2024, and fully complete the data analysis on the use-of-force by 2025.

“Law Enforcement: DHS Should Strengthen Use of Force Data Collection and Analysis.” Washington: U.S. Government Accountability Office, July 24, 2023. https://www.gao.gov/products/gao-23-105927.
Lacy, Akela. “Federal Law Enforcement Agencies Routinely Undercount Use-of-Force Incidents.” The Intercept, July 27, 2023. https://theintercept.com/2023/07/27/dhs-use-of-force/.

Sector(s): CBP

Agency(ies): CBP, DHS

Event Type(s): Evading Oversight

Last Known Accountability Status: Under GAO Investigation

Victim Classification:

Mid-July 2023

According to The Intercept, dozens of migrants arriving at the border were being detained outside, amid a record-setting heatwave in Arizona. Two hours west of Tucson, the Ajo Border Patrol Station received an influx of migrants over the course of the week, roughly beginning on July 16th. While the station can process a couple hundred people a day, The Intercept reported that over 1,000 people had been turning themselves in at the border wall.

Although migrants were being detained outside, Border Patrol officials claimed the outside area was only being used for men, and that migrants had access to meals, water, and a large fan. They confirmed that once these migrants were screened, they were transported to other locations for processing. According to CNN’s report, Border Patrol claimed zero migrants had died in their custody since the beginning of the heat wave, despite the influx of arrivals. 

However, The Intercept revealed that officials refused to answer questions regarding how long people were being kept outside, whether or not children were being detained outside, or if the people detained outside were given emergency medical care. Intercept’s report also states that there was not a canopy above the outside area as Border Patrol agents claimed. 
As the heat worsened, many advocates worried about the safety of the migrants One official stated that by failing to provide resources such as proper heating or cooling equipment, it is essentially impossible for agents to abide by regulations of humane treatment. When interviewing agents anonymously for their report, many officials revealed that they were unaware of who signed off for migrants to be held outside. Some agents believed the treatment was “what they get for coming here illegally”, other agents were appalled at the conditions of the outdoor holding pen, and had liability concerns.

Weisfeldt, Sara, and Rosa Flores. “US Customs and Border Protection Sends Resources to Remote Arizona Area after Increase in Migrant Crossings.” CNN, August 5, 2023. https://www.cnn.com/2023/08/05/us/arizona-border-crossing-migrants/index.html.
Sullivan, Eileen. “This Agency Was Created With a Terrorism Focus. Now It Also Has to Care for Migrants.” The New York Times, July 13, 2023, sec. U.S. https://www.nytimes.com/2023/07/13/us/politics/cbp-border-migrants-immigration-el-paso.html.
Devereaux, Ryan. “Border Patrol Violating Court Order Against Inhumane Treatment of Migrants, Officials Say.” The Intercept, August 28, 2023. https://theintercept.com/2023/08/28/border-migrants-arizona-cages/.
Devereaux, Ryan. “Border Patrol Is Caging Migrants Outdoors During Deadly Arizona Heatwave.” The Intercept, July 21, 2023. https://theintercept.com/2023/07/21/arizona-heatwave-border-patrol-migrants/.
Bosque, Melissa del. “Ajo Residents, Activists Protest Inhumane Conditions for Asylum Seekers.” The Border Chronicle, February 23, 2023. https://www.theborderchronicle.com/p/ajo-residents-activists-protest-inhumane.

Sector(s): Border Patrol, Tucson

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Conditions in Custody, Denial of Protection to Most Vulnerable

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: Family Unit, Single Adult

July 2023

Following a December 2022 investigation by the Project on Government Oversight and the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, which found more than 300 members of the “Oath Keepers” far-right militia group “described themselves as current or former employees” of DHS, Sen Edward J. Markey (D-Massachusetts) and Representatives Dan Goldman (D-New York) and Robert Garcia (D-California) led a letter to DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, signed by 66 members of Congress, “requesting an update on actions the Department has taken to address the threat of domestic violent extremism within the DHS.” The letter cites various incidents of collaboration with vigilante groups or approval of them from federal agents. 

As cited by The New York Times, Rep. Daniel S. Goldman (D-N.Y.) said in an interview, “There’s real urgency here.” Goldman said DHS’s acknowledgment that there were gaps in identifying extremist employees “creates real security issues and real credibility issues for the department, especially in light of the Oath Keepers’ role in January 6th and the convictions for seditious conspiracy.”

The letters gave Mayorkas a July 31 deadline to address 20 questions. Secretary Mayorkas has yet to respond.

—Jackman, Tom. “Democrats Press Homeland Security on Domestic Extremism in Workforce.” Washington Post, July 17, 2023. https://www.washingtonpost.com/dc-md-va/2023/07/17/domestic-terrorism-homeland-security-extremism-oathkeepers/.
—Markey, Edward. “Markey, Garcia, Goldman Lead Call for Update on Investigation Into Domestic Terrorism Threat Within the Department of Homeland Security | U.S. Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts.” U.S. Senate, July 17, 2023. https://www.markey.senate.gov/news/press-releases/markey-garcia-goldman-lead-call-for-update-on-investigation-into-domestic-terrorism-threat-within-the-department-of-homeland-security.
—Schwellenback, Nick. “Hundreds of Oath Keepers Have Worked for DHS, Leaked List Shows.” Project On Government Oversight, December 12, 2022. https://www.pogo.org/investigation/2022/12/hundreds-of-oath-keepers-have-worked-for-dhs-leaked-list-shows.

Sector(s): Border Patrol, Border-Wide, CBP

Agency(ies): CBP, DHS

Event Type(s): Vigilantism Tolerance or Collaboration

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification:

July 12, 2023

In a Human Rights First report published on July 12, 2023, they described a case of  Mexican immigration officers blocking a Haitian minor who was pregnant from seeking asylum at the Matamoros port of entry. Humanitarian workers escorted the girl to the port of entry. Border Patrol officers told the humanitarian workers, “Sweetheart, we’re not going to take her.” The humanitarian workers responded by contacting U.S. officials by phone and were able to advocate for the migrant’s processing.

Asencio, Christina, Eleanor Acer, and Rebecca Gendelman. “Refugee Protection Travesty.” New York: Human Rights First, July 12, 2023. https://humanrightsfirst.org/library/refugee-protection-travesty/.

Sector(s): Border Patrol, Outside the United States

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Denial of Access to Asylum, Expulsion of Unaccompanied Minor

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: Female, Haiti, Teen, Unaccompanied Child

July 3, 2023

A San Diego federal court indicted CBP Officer Leonard Darnell George on charges of “receiving bribes by a public official and two charges for conspiracy to traffic and distribute drugs. Prosecutors allege George allowed vehicles containing stashes of methamphetamine, fentanyl, cocaine and heroin to enter the U.S. from Mexico.” (Original link)

George was the lead defendant in a seven-person indictment on the drug charges, though he was accused separately of taking bribes and possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. The indictment alleges that George, known as “The Goalie,” began accepting bribes as early as October 2021 and continued to do so until at least June 2022.

If convicted, George faces a life sentence.

Prosecutors and court records indicated George had prior issues in the workplace including a May 6th incident leading to an administrative leave placement. The incident, according to San Diego Superior Court records, involved George alerting his CBP supervisor of self-harm. The San Diego police consequently detained him on a mental health hold, seized his firearms, and sought a gun violence restraining order that would prohibit him from purchasing firearms. In response to the incident, a CBP spokesperson noted that the agency was prohibited from discussing administrative actions, including discipline, as well as matters under litigation.

A second incident on record involved George and his brother, after one of their frequent trips to Mexico. According to court records and varying accounts, a dispute broke out at the San Ysidro Port of Entry after George said his brother left his wallet at home, and gave the officers a fake name and birth date for him, allegedly due to an arrest warrant for his brother. A verbal altercation broke out and the officers claimed George grew hostile and later threatened and intimidated them. The incident prompted four fellow CBP officers to seek harassment restraining orders against George, according to court records. Three of the four restraining orders were granted.

A third incident on record is from 2018, between the time he was hired to work for CBP and when he actually began his employment, where two of his colleagues filed a complaint with the local police department claiming George “threatened to hurt them”. George denied the incident and sought a restraining order against them. The incident resulted in George being placed on leave for three weeks and the judge denied his restraining order request.

—Green, Emily. “A Border Agent Was Just Charged With Taking Bribes from Cartels to Smuggle Drugs.” Vice, July 6, 2023. https://www.vice.com/en/article/5d9d48/a-border-agent-was-just-charged-with-taking-bribes-to-smuggle-drugs.

—Riggins, Alex. “CBP Officer Charged with Taking Bribes at Border Deemed Flight Risk in Drug Case – The San Diego Union-Tribune.” San Diego Union-Tribune, July 11, 2023. https://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/courts/story/2023-07-11/cbp-officer-george-detention-hearing.

—United States Department of Justice Southern District of California. “Customs and Border Protection Officer Indicted for Receiving Bribes, Allowing Drug-Laden Vehicles to Enter the U.S.,” July 3, 2023. https://www.justice.gov/usao-sdca/pr/customs-and-border-protection-officer-indicted-receiving-bribes-allowing-drug-laden.

Sector(s): San Diego Field Office

Agency(ies): Office of Field Operations

Event Type(s): Corruption, Lying or Deliberate Misleading, Threat of Violence

Last Known Accountability Status: Criminal Charges Pending, Under Judicial Review

Victim Classification:

Late June, 2023

Reporting on June 22, 2023, the Nogales-based Kino Border Initiative (KBI), which maintains a migrant shelter in Nogales, Sonora, stated, “Over the past month, KBI has documented 7 cases of detention of asylum seekers who presented at the Nogales Port of Entry without a CBP One appointment, resulting in separation from their siblings, partners, and parents.”

Among cases cited:

– Upon presenting at the POE, CBP detained Magdalena [name changed to protect privacy] separating her from her aunt and cousins. They fled Michoacan after they could no longer afford to pay the weekly quota that organized crime demanded from the laundry business the family owned.

– CBP detained Federico [name changed to protect privacy] separating him from his sister and her husband, who he was traveling with. Federico and his family are fleeing violence in Guerrero, where he survived an attack that resulted in the loss of his leg.

— “June 22 update from KBI” (Nogales: Kino Border Initiative, June 22, 2023).

Sector(s): Tucson Field Office

Agency(ies): Office of Field Operations

Event Type(s): Denial of Protection to Most Vulnerable, Family Separation

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: Disability, Family Unit

June 28, 2023

El Paso-based Border Patrol agent Fernando Castillo allegedly offered a migrant woman “papers” and the ability to stay in the United States in exchange for a $5,000 bribe, and stole $500 from her bag, according to court documents. (Original link)

The migrant woman reported the incident, eventually leading to Castillo being indicted by a grand jury on three counts of wire fraud, bribery by a public official and migrant smuggling following his arrest on June 28, according to federal court records.

— Ameer, Sana. “Report: Border Officer Asked for $5K Bribe to Let Migrant Stay in US.” Laredo Morning Times, August 2, 2023. https://www.lmtonline.com/news/article/border-patrol-agent-bribe-18275015.php.

— “Border Patrol Agent Charged with Bribery, Allegedly Offered Immigration Benefits to Migran.” KOMO, July 28, 2023. https://komonews.com/news/nation-world/border-patrol-agent-accused-of-offering-migrant-immigration-papers-for-5k-fernando-castillo-el-paso-texas-us-mexico-border-immigration.

— “Castillo Criminal Complaint.” U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, June 28, 2023. https://drive.google.com/file/d/1FtH87RvUPwZLM4Kg5koKrwR8djWql0KM/view.

— Resendiz, Julian. “Border Agent Allegedly Offered Woman ‘Papers’ for $5,000.” BorderReport, July 27, 2023. https://www.borderreport.com/immigration/border-crime/border-agent-allegedly-offered-woman-papers-for-5000/.

— Weisfeldt, Sara, and Rosa Flores. “US Border Patrol Agent Indicted on Bribery and Smuggling Charges for Allegedly Offering Migrant Immigration ‘papers’ for $5,000.” CNN, August 1, 2023. https://www.cnn.com/2023/08/01/us/us-border-patrol-agent-bribery-charge-migrant-papers/index.html.

Sector(s): El Paso

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Corruption, Non-Return of Belongings

Last Known Accountability Status: Criminal Charges Pending, Under Judicial Review

Victim Classification: Female, Single Adult

June 23, 2023

A report by the International Rescue Committee, produced in coordination with six U.S., Mexican, and international NGOs, noted that:

Refugee Health Alliance, an NGO that provides health services to migrants in Mexico, reported that CBP officers rejected requests for humanitarian parole of individuals in Tijuana for whom its staff had provided letters to document their urgent medical needs.

— “Limits on Access to Asylum After Title 42: One Month of Monitoring U.S.-Mexico Border Ports of Entry.” United States: International Rescue Committee, June 23, 2023. https://www.rescue.org/report/limits-access-asylum-after-title-42-one-month-monitoring-us-mexico-border-ports-entry.

Sector(s): San Diego Field Office

Agency(ies): Office of Field Operations

Event Type(s): Denial of Access to Asylum, Denial of Protection to Most Vulnerable

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification:

June 20, 2023

“As the Biden administration prepared to launch speedy asylum screenings at Border Patrol holding facilities this spring, authorities pledged a key difference from a Trump-era version of the policy: Migrants would be guaranteed access to legal counsel,” the Associated Press reported on July 2, 2023. A May 1 fact sheet from DHS had explained, “CBP and ICE have expanded holding capacity and set up equipment and procedures so that individuals have the ability to access counsel” (original link).

A report from the National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC) found otherwise. As of June 20, NIJC had carried out telephonic legal consultations with 23 asylum seekers compelled to defend their cases in rapid, telephonic credible fear interviews (CFIs) with asylum officers while in CBP custody, shortly after being apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border. The organization found that “CBP and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) continue to routinely and severely obstruct access to counsel for people attempting to seek asylum in CBP custody.”

All consultations with clients must happen over the telephone, as “CBP continues to deny attorneys physical access to CBP facilities,” NIJC noted, adding that this makes it impossible to return calls.

Even getting an agreement to represent an asylum seeker before their CFI has been made very difficult: USCIS requires migrants to physically (not electronically) sign a document agreeing to be represented. CBP, however, often fails to deliver those documents to asylum seekers in the agency’s custody, NIJC found:

CBP regularly fails to even respond to emails from NIJC attorneys requesting that they facilitate a client’s signature.

In four cases, CBP failed to respond to multiple emails from NIJC attorneys requesting assistance with obtaining their client’s signatures on a notice of appearance. In three of these cases, USCIS proceeded to conduct the clients’ CFIs without counsel present. In the fourth case, USCIS convinced NIJC’s client to return to Mexico on a voluntary return order, a decision with significant legal consequences.

In another case, “a CBP officer [probably a Border Patrol agent] pointed a person seeking asylum to the phone booths [in the holding facility] and told him that he could call either his family or an attorney — not both. The client called his family.”

Despite assurances that it would provide asylum seekers with pens and paper to take notes during their telephonic conversations with counsel, “in most cases CBP still refuses to allow people access to pen and paper during their consultations,” NIJC reported.

Of the 23 people for whom NIJC has conducted consultations, only six people had access to a pen and paper (half of whom received them only upon NIJC’s request). In one case, a CBP officer told an NIJC attorney that these basic supplies were in “short supply.” Pens and paper are critical to help people remember their attorney’s name and phone number in addition to complex legal information.

— U.S. Department of Homeland Security. “Fact Sheet: Update on DHS Planning for Southwest Border Security Measures as the Title 42 Public Health Order Ends,” May 1, 2023. https://www.dhs.gov/news/2023/05/01/fact-sheet-update-dhs-planning-southwest-border-security-measures-title-42-public.

— Spagat, Elliot. “The Biden Administration Guaranteed Attorney Access for All Migrant Screenings. Most Don’t Have It.” Associated Press, July 2, 2023. https://apnews.com/article/border-asylum-screenings-credible-fear-biden-c0cb41b512609b3894ebcfaa3ed3bb4c.

— National Immigrant Justice Center. “Obstructed Legal Access: June 2023 Update,” June 20, 2023. https://immigrantjustice.org/staff/blog/obstructed-legal-access-june-2023-update.

Sector(s): Border-Wide

Agency(ies): CBP

Event Type(s): Denial of Access to Asylum, Denial of Access to Counsel

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification:

June 20, 2023

“One person I represented had been held in CBP custody for two weeks before she spoke with an asylum officer,” said National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC) Supervising Attorney Lee VanderLinden, in an NIJC report about CBP blocking access to counsel for asylum seekers in the agency’s custody. “During that time, she was denied medical attention despite asking for treatment for her anxiety. She has since been deported, but the government has not told me or her mother to where she was deported.”

— National Immigrant Justice Center. “Obstructed Legal Access: June 2023 Update,” June 20, 2023. https://immigrantjustice.org/staff/blog/obstructed-legal-access-june-2023-update.

Sector(s): Border-Wide

Agency(ies): CBP

Event Type(s): Conditions in Custody, Denial of Access to Asylum, Denial of Access to Counsel, Denial of Medical Care

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: Female

June 20, 2023

As the National Immigrant Justice Center and the New York Times reported, asylum seekers placed in “expedited removal” are forced to defend their claims while in CBP’s jail-like holding facilities within days of apprehension, resulting in elevated rates of failing the “credible fear” screening interview that determines asylum eligibility (70 percent failure in June 2023, compared to 26 percent in June 2019). A denial can result in immediate deportation.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) promised that people in CBP custody would have access to counsel for the interview, though this rarely happens, and that people would not be held for longer than 72 hours, yet numerous reports indicate people being held for 10 days and some for up to 30 days. Various groups have voiced concerns about the expedited removal process and the severe obstructions to access to counsel for people attempting to seek asylum including limiting access to phones for legal consultations, failing to notify attorneys of their clients’ scheduled screenings and immigration court reviews, denying asylum seekers in CBP custody access to pen and paper, and requiring that people physically sign a notice of entry of appearance to secure the attorney/client relationship, while often failing to facilitate the required signature. The Times observed:

Lawyers cannot meet with clients who are in the custody of Border Patrol. Or call them. Or leave messages for them. There is no system to find out where a client is being held. And the government sets the schedules for key meetings when a lawyer should be present and changes dates and times often without notification.


The failure to notify counsel of credible fear interviews has occurred within the context of persistent communication from attorneys requesting notification. Among cases cited:

An NIJC (National Immigrant Justice Center) attorney seeking to represent two asylum seekers in CBP custody emailed her notices of appearance and requested to attend her clients’ CFIs on three separate occasions over the span of five days. She received no acknowledgement or response. Only upon notifying officials at Department of Homeland Security (DHS) headquarters of these cases was she informed that both of her clients had already been interviewed without counsel present.


The NIJC described the re-traumatizing and destabilizing nature of a truncated screening process, notably for individuals with specific vulnerabilities. Their clients have included youth, LGBTQIA+ individuals, and survivors of sexual violence—each forced to recount their past trauma to an asylum officer within 24 hours of arriving in the United States, all while sitting alone in a phone booth in a carceral setting. Lee VanderLinden, NIJC supervising attorney described the process for one of their clients:

One person I represented had been held in CBP custody for two weeks before she spoke with an asylum officer. During that time, she was denied medical attention despite asking for treatment for her anxiety. She has since been deported, but the government has not told me or her mother to where she was deported.

— National Immigrant Justice Center. “Obstructed Legal Access: June 2023 Update,” June 20, 2023. https://immigrantjustice.org/staff/blog/obstructed-legal-access-june-2023-update.
—Sullivan, Eileen. “Lawyers Say Helping Asylum Seekers in Border Custody Is Nearly Impossible.” The New York Times, July 22, 2023, sec. U.S. https://www.nytimes.com/2023/07/22/us/politics/biden-asylum-policies-border.html.

Sector(s): Border-Wide

Agency(ies): CBP, DHS

Event Type(s): Denial of Access to Asylum, Denial of Access to Counsel, Denial of Protection to Most Vulnerable

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: LGBTQ, Sexual Abuse Victim, Single Adult, Teen

June, 2023

A July 12, 2023 Human Rights First report found that asylum seekers forced to undergo credible fear interviews by telephone from CBP custody, under the Biden administration’s new asylum rule, “face abysmal conditions — including inadequate access to food, hygiene, or medical care — which may lead some to abandon their claims for protection.”

The report related the case of a Venezuelan asylum seeker fleeing government persecution who “accepted voluntary return to Mexico in June 2023 while suffering horrendous medical neglect in CBP custody.”

His asthma was exacerbated by the extreme cold in the CBP jail and he had recently been ill with pneumonia, but he was denied access to an inhaler or other medical care by CBP officers who told him they didn’t care or to “shut up” when he begged for medical attention. Though he feared harm in Mexico because he witnessed Mexican police targeting other Venezuelan migrants due to their nationality, he felt compelled to accept voluntary return to Mexico because of the conditions in CBP detention, according to his attorney at NIJC [National Immigrant Justice Center].

— Asencio, Christina, Eleanor Acer, and Rebecca Gendelman. “Refugee Protection Travesty.” New York: Human Rights First, July 12, 2023. https://humanrightsfirst.org/library/refugee-protection-travesty/.

Sector(s): Border-Wide

Agency(ies): CBP

Event Type(s): Abusive Language, Conditions in Custody, Denial of Medical Care

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: Medical Condition, Single Adult, Venezuela

May 25, 2023

“An NIJC attorney was only able to appear with a client in one of the three immigration judge review hearings,” read a National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC) report about CBP blocking access to counsel for asylum seekers in the agency’s custody. “In this case, the NIJC attorney only knew the review was happening because his client’s wife informed him. CBP refused the attorney’s requests to speak to his client to prepare for the immigration judge review.”

— National Immigrant Justice Center. “Obstructed Legal Access: NIJC’s Findings From 3 Weeks of Telephonic Legal Consultations in CBP Custody,” May 25, 2023. https://immigrantjustice.org/staff/blog/obstructed-legal-access-nijcs-findings-3-weeks-telephonic-legal-consultations-cbp.

Sector(s): Border-Wide

Agency(ies): CBP

Event Type(s): Denial of Access to Asylum, Denial of Access to Counsel

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: Single Adult

May 18, 2023

Border Patrol agents shot and killed Raymond Mattia, a 58 year-old member of the Tohono O’odham nation, while Mattia was steps from the front door of his home in the community of Menager’s Dam (also known as Ali Chuk), Arizona. Three agents, part of a group accompanying Tohono O’odham Nation police, fired their weapons at Mattia, striking him “several times,” according to CBP’s May 22, 2023 release about the incident (original link).

The three agents who discharged their weapons, along with seven others, activated their body-worn cameras during the incident. On June 22, 2023, CBP released the body-worn camera footage from four of the ten cameras of agents present at the scene, including those of the three agents who fired at Mattia (original link). (The video contains heavy profanity and graphic violence.)

This was CBP’s third release of body-worn camera footage since the agency began making edited footage public in April 2023. On May 23, DHS announced the publication of a new policy on body-worn cameras for the department’s 80,000 law enforcement personnel (original links: release / policy). The announcement noted that CBP, which has had its own body-worn camera directive since August 2021, had so far issued 7,000 cameras to its workforce (original link).

The body-worn camera video release showed the agents firing rapid volleys of bullets at Mattia. The Pima County Medical Examiner’s autopsy report found that Mattia was hit by nine bullets (original link).

It is not clear why police and agents prioritized Mattia’s residence. CBP’s statement reported that agents arrived at the scene upon the request of the Tohono O’odham Nation Police Department, to respond to a “shots fired” call. CBP’s video presentation plays audio of a call from Tohono O’odham police informing Border Patrol of a report of shots fired in a general area. The call does not name any person or address. As NBC News coverage noted, “It is unclear how agents determined the shots came from Mattia,” if shots had in fact been fired.

Mattia’s relatives, however, have said that Mattia himself called Border Patrol for help, because migrants were passing through his property. Relatives say they know nothing about “shots fired” in the area that evening, and that Mattia “thought the agents were there to respond to his previous call about migrants on his property,” which is not far from the border, NBC reported. A family member told the Intercept that some migrants had entered Mattia’s home demanding to use his phone, and “he just grabbed his hunting knife and scared them off.”

Soon after, Annette Mattia, the victim’s sister and neighbor, told Arizona Public Media that she saw “a bunch of Border Patrol vehicles drive into the yard.”

She grabbed her phone and called her brother. She told him Border Patrol were all over and asked what she should do.

Laughing it off, Raymond said, Just tell them to go away. Annette told him she didn’t want to talk to them as she watched the agents rush toward Raymond’s yard. He said he’d go out and talk to them.

“Next thing you know, I heard all the gunfire,” she says. “I didn’t know if it was him or not. I was shaking. I was scared. I was crying because I had that feeling that they did that to him.”

The body-worn camera footage showed agents in an agitated state as they headed toward Mattia’s residence, where they arrived about a half-hour after the initial call. The footage, NBC remarked, indicated that the agents “knew Mattia and had pinpointed him as the person responsible for firing shots.” As they search for him, one agent refers to Mattia as “this motherf——.”

As the Border Patrol agents and Tohono O’odham police converged on his house, the video shows Mattia coming outside. Tribal police told him to put down his weapon. Mattia complied, lobbing toward the police a sheathed machete or hunting knife, perhaps the one he had brandished at the migrants who had reportedly entered his home.

Border Patrol agents, shouting profanity-filled commands, then ordered Mattia to take his “hands out of his f—ing pocket.” Mattia, complying, abruptly removed his hand, holding an object down and to the right. Three agents, apparently believing the object to be a weapon, immediately opened fire multiple times, and Mattia fell to the ground. The object in Mattia’s hand was a mobile phone.

Unable to detect a pulse in Mattia, the agents initiated CPR and subsequently called for air life medical evacuation. Because of inclement weather, however, evacuation was not available, and Mattia was pronounced dead. Annette Mattia told Arizona Public Media that her brother’s body remained in his front yard for seven hours until the medical examiner arrived. “We just got to say our goodbyes in a bodybag,” she said.

Family members told the Intercept that they are perplexed about why agents decided to zero in on Mattia’s home. “The dispatcher states that they couldn’t pinpoint where the shooting was coming from, but yet, when they are there at the rec center [where the operation began], they’re coming straight to my uncle Ray’s house, with their guns drawn,” said Mattia’s niece, Yvonne Nevarez.

Tohono O’odham land straddles the U.S.-Mexico border, and the Nation has had an uneasy relationship at times with U.S. border law enforcement. Mattia himself appears to have had a complicated past relationship with Border Patrol. Ophelia Rivas, a friend of the victim, told the Arizona Republic that Mattia “was on the community council of the village and would often speak up about Border Patrol abuses.” The Intercept noted that he “had been outspoken against the corruption he saw on the border, including corruption involving border law enforcement.” Amy Juan, a leader of the Tohono O’odham Nation in southern Arizona and northern Sonora, told the Border Chronicle podcast that Mattia had “been vocal, not just now, but in the past and recently, about the activity happening that he’s seen in his community, namely, involving Border Patrol. Corruption, and being involved in illegal activities there.”

Mattia’s family and friends described him as a “law abiding citizen” who was “not an aggressive kind of man.” On an episode of the Border Patrol union-affiliated podcast, however, National Border Patrol Council Vice President Art del Cueto remarked that Mattia had a prior arrest record.

“Raymond called for help and, in turn, was shot down at his doorstep,” read a statement from family members, which alleged that “improper and unprofessional actions of the agencies involved were witnessed by family members present near the crime scene.”

The agents who fired their weapons are currently on leave with pay, as is standard in such use-of-force incidents. CBP reported Mattia’s death “is currently being investigated by the Tohono O’odham Nation Police Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and is under review by CBP’s Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR).”

Once these investigations conclude, CBP’s National Use of Force Review Board will review the incident and make disciplinary recommendations, if any. In fiscal year 2021, the last year for which data are available, this Review Board and local review boards declined to issue sanctions in 96 percent of the 684 cases they reviewed. Of the other 24 cases, 11 ended up with counseling for the agents involved, and the other 13 remained under investigation or pending action as of April 2022.

“There’ll be an investigation, an assessment of the force used, and we are going to look at tensions in the community,” Gary Restaino, the U.S. Attorney for the District of Arizona, said on June 23. Frank Figliuzzi, a former civil rights supervisor for the FBI in San Francisco, shared with NBC News his belief that the agents may not be disciplined “given that officers were responding to a ‘shots fired call,’ the way Mattia pulled out his phone, and the darkness of the environment, among other factors.”

— “Tucson agents involved in fatal shooting of man, while responding to shots fired call” (U.S. Customs and Border Protection, May 22, 2023) <https://www.cbp.gov/newsroom/speeches-and-statements/tucson-agents-involved-fatal-shooting-man-while-responding-shots>.

— “CBP releases body-worn camera footage from agent-involved shooting on Tohono O’odham Nation” (U.S. Customs and Border Protection, June 22, 2023) <https://www.cbp.gov/newsroom/national-media-release/cbp-releases-body-worn-camera-footage-agent-involved-shooting-0>.

— “Body-Worn Camera Video Releases” (U.S. Customs and Border Protection, 2023) <https://www.cbp.gov/newsroom/accountability-and-transparency/body-worn-camera-video-releases>.

— “DHS Announces First Department-Wide Policy on Body-Worn Cameras” (U.S. Department of Homeland Security, May 23, 2023) <https://www.dhs.gov/news/2023/05/23/dhs-announces-first-department-wide-policy-body-worn-cameras>.

— Alejandro N. Mayorkas, “Department Policy on Body Worn Cameras” (U.S. Department of Homeland Security, May 22, 2023) <https://www.dhs.gov/sites/default/files/2023-05/23_0522_opa_signed-dhs-policy-on-body-worn-cameras-508.pdf>.

— “CBP Directive No.: 4320-030B: Incident-Driven Video Recording Systems” (U.S. Customs and Border Protection, August 6, 2021) <https://www.cbp.gov/sites/default/files/assets/documents/2022-Feb/CBP-Directive-4320-030B-IDVRS-signed-508.pdf>.

— “Autopsy Report for Raymond Mattia.” (Tucson: Pima County Medical Examiner, May 19, 2023.) <https://content.civicplus.com/api/assets/7a5f61dd-df80-4f8e-a519-642d767451aa>.

— Julia Ainsley and Didi Martinez, “CBP releases body camera video of fatal shooting of man on tribal land near Mexican border” (NBC News, June 23, 2023) <https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/cbp-releases-body-camera-video-fatal-shooting-man-tribal-land-mexican-rcna90872>.

— Lupita Murillo, “Tohono O’odham man shot and killed by border patrol” (Tucson: KVOA, May 19, 2023) <https://www.kvoa.com/news/local/tohono-oodham-man-shot-and-killed-by-border-patrol/article_a09cb84e-f6a8-11ed-a078-63d5074703ec.html>.

— Ryan Deveraux, “Border Patrol Video of Killing Shows Native Man Had No Gun, Complied With Orders” (The Intercept, June 26, 2023) <https://theintercept.com/2023/06/26/border-patrol-killing-raymond-mattia/>.

— Danyelle Khmara, “Family of man killed by border patrol want justice for their loved one” (Arizona: Arizona Public Media, May 26, 2023) <https://news.azpm.org/p/news-articles/2023/5/26/216197-family-of-man-killed-by-border-patrol-want-justice-for-their-loved-one/>.

— Todd Miller, “How Border Patrol Occupied the Tohono O’odham Nation” (In These Times, June 12, 2019) <https://inthesetimes.com/article/us-mexico-border-surveillance-tohono-oodham-nation-border-patrol>.

— José Ignacio Castañeda Perez, “‘We want justice’: Family, friends of Tohono O’odham man protest Border Patrol killing” (Arizona: The Arizona Republic, May 27, 2023) <https://www.azcentral.com/story/news/politics/border-issues/2023/05/27/border-patrol-abuses-decried-by-family-of-slain-tohono-oodham-member/70258069007/>.

— Todd Miller, “The Longer Story of the Border Patrol Killing of a Tohono O’odham Man: A Podcast with Amy Juan” (The Border Chronicle, June 15, 2023) <https://www.theborderchronicle.com/p/the-longer-story-of-the-border-patrol>.

— Art Del Cueto, “Episode 463 – The Magic Wand” (The Green Line, May 27, 2023) <https://www.radiogreenline.com/episode-463-the-magic-wand/>.

— Brenda Norrell, “Family of Raymond Mattia, Tohono O’odham Murdered by U.S. Border Patrol, Plans Protests” (IndyBay.org, May 25, 2023) <https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2023/05/25/18856331.php>.

— José Ignacio Castañeda Perez, “Autopsy: Tohono O’odham man shot 9 times by Border Patrol as death ruled a homicide” (Arizona: The Arizona Republic, June 23, 2023) <https://www.azcentral.com/story/news/politics/border-issues/2023/06/23/border-patrol-shot-tohono-oodham-man-9-times-death-ruled-a-homicide/70351733007/>.

Sector(s): Tucson

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Use of Force

Last Known Accountability Status: To be reviewed by Use of Force Review Board, Under FBI Investigation, Under Local Police investigation, Under OPR Investigation

Victim Classification: Indigenous, U.S. Citizen or Resident

May 17, 2023

Anadith Danay Reyes Alvarez, an eight-year-old Panamanian daughter of Honduran parents, died on her ninth day of being held in CBP custody with her family in Border Patrol’s Harlingen, Texas Station. The likely cause was influenza.

The family had turned themselves in to Border Patrol in Texas on May 9, 2023, two days before the Title 42 pandemic expulsion policy came to an end, a time when the agency was apprehending about 10,000 people per day. This may have prolonged their time in custody, although the Associated Press reported that by May 14, the average time in custody border-wide had fallen to 77 hours as the rate of new apprehensions dropped rapidly. Under normal circumstances, migrants are meant to spend no more than 72 hours in Border Patrol’s austere holding facilities.

According to a series of CBP statements and updates about Reyes’s case, on May 14th Reyes voiced complaints of abdominal pain, nasal congestion, and cough. That day, CBP-contracted medical personnel reported a fever of 101.8 degrees and a positive test result for Influenza A. In accordance with CBP protocol, the family was transferred to Harlingen Border Patrol Station for communicable disease medical isolation.

Reyes’s mother, Mabel Álvarez Benedicks, told the Associated Press that Border Patrol personnel, including medical contractors, repeatedly denied her appeals for medical aid, including an ambulance and hospitalization, in some cases just administering fever-reducing medication.

CBP reported that the family requested the medical personnel review Anadith’s medical documents to understand her medical conditions: a history of heart problems and sickle-cell anemia (original link). The parents made four requests for an ambulance. All requests were denied.

CBP acknowledged that medical personnel at the Harlingen Border Patrol Station refused to escalate Anadith’s level of care, even as her fever rose to 104.9 degrees early on May 16, the day before she passed. “Contracted medical personnel did not consult with on-call physicians (including an on-call pediatrician) about the girl’s condition, symptoms, or treatment,” the agency’s June 1 statement continued. “The contracted medical personnel failed to document numerous medical encounters, emergency antipyretic interventions, and administrations of medicine.”

The statement went on to note that “the camera system at Harlingen Station was flagged for repair/replacement on April 13. The outage was not reported to CBP OPR as required by H.R. 1158, Fiscal Year 2020 DHS Consolidated Appropriation.”

CBP reported nine medical encounters while the family was in the Harlingen facility. The mother requested emergency attention three times on the 17th; that day, the girl had a seizure, became unresponsive, and was transported to a hospital, where personnel declared her deceased within minutes.

“They killed my daughter, because she was nearly a day and a half without being able to breathe,” Álvarez Benedicks told the Associated Press. “She cried and begged for her life and they ignored her. They didn’t do anything for her.”

When she reported her daughter’s bone pain to an agent, she said he responded, “‘Oh, your daughter is growing up. That’s why her bones hurt. Give her water.’”

“I just looked at him,” Alvarez Benedicks said. “How would he know what to do if he’s not a doctor?”

“I felt like they didn’t believe me,” she said.

In an interview with ABC’s GMA3 program, Álvarez Benedicks said “she felt like medical personnel thought she was lying about how sick her child was feeling… She says Anadith told the staff ‘I can’t breathe from my mouth or my nose.’” The mother added her belief that she received poor treatment because she is Black: “I feel that since I got there they discriminated against me because of my skin tone and because I am an immigrant.”

In a May 21 statement, CBP “Senior Official Performing the Duties of Commissioner” Troy Miller informed that the agency would review cases of “medically fragile” people being kept in custody for long periods, and “will immediately initiate a review of medical care practices at CBP facilities and ensure the deployment of additional medical personnel as needed” (original link). The statement added that CBP had added more than 1,000 medical contractors to its facilities since 2021.

In a June 1 statement, Miller pledged other changes like reducing family units’ time in custody, deploying clinicians from the United States Public Health Service (USPHS) to CBP sites, ordering a review of the medical contractor’s practices at CBP facilities, and prohibiting several medical providers involved in the incident from providing care at CBP facilities (original link).

The Washington Post reported that on June 15 CBP transferred its chief medical officer, David Tarantino, to another assignment at DHS. (Tarantino’s position was created in 2020, after, as the Associated Press put it, “at least six children died during a roughly yearlong period from 2018 to 2019 during the Trump administration.”)

The Washington Post and Los Angeles Times reported on internal Department of Homeland Security (DHS) documents finding fault with CBP’s care for medically fragile migrants in the agency’s custody. The Post reviewed a June 8 internal memo from DHS acting chief medical officer Herbert O. Wolfe that found the Harlingen Border Patrol station “lacked sufficient medical engagement and accountability to ensure safe, effective, humane and well-documented medical care.” The memo, according to the Post’s Nick Miroff, “describes an ad hoc system with little ability to manage medical records, poor communication among staff and a lack of clear guidelines for seeking help from doctors outside the border agency.”

In his response to Wolfe, CBP’s Miller stated that he had ordered the relocation of medically vulnerable migrants from the Harlingen station, and halted the facility’s use as an isolation unit. He added that CBP is reviewing its medical record-keeping system and has told its medical contractor to “take immediate action to review practices and quality assurance plans to ensure appropriate care.” That contractor, Loyal Source Government Services, “received a $408 million medical services contract from CBP in 2020,” the Post reported.

The Los Angeles Times obtained documents from DHS’s Office of the Immigration Detention Ombudsman (OIDO) indicating that officials at one of the Texas CBP detention facilities where Anadith’s family was held had been “complaining about the facility’s ‘overuse of hospitalization.’” A May 22 memo reported by the Times’s Hamed Aleaziz noted that the staff of CBP’s Donna, Texas processing facility “had a ‘tendency to send migrants to the hospital for things that could easily be treated on location,’ the investigators wrote.” Days earlier, agents refused Anadith Reyes’ parents’ repeated pleas for an ambulance and hospital care.

The August 25, 2023 Washington Post reported that Border Patrol had already decided not to renew a $25 million per month contract with the company providing medical services in its Harlingen, Texas station when Reyes passed there. The agency had not yet selected a company to take over duties performed by Florida-based Loyal Source Government Services, which had filed protests about the contracting process.

Anadith Danay Reyes Alvarez was laid to rest in New Jersey on June 17. “We will let our baby rest and let her rest in peace. We want justice for her so that no one else has to go through this,” read a statement from the family. According to the Associated Press, attorneys with the Texas Civil Rights Project and the Haitian Bridge Alliance have requested an independent autopsy to determine the cause of her death.

— U.S. Customs and Border Protection. “June 1, 2023 Update: Death in Custody of 8-Year-Old in Harlingen, Texas,” June 1, 2023. https://www.cbp.gov/newsroom/speeches-and-statements/june-1-2023-update-death-custody-8-year-old-harlingen-texas.

— U.S. Customs and Border Protection. “Statement from CBP Acting Commissioner Troy Miller on the Investigation of the In-Custody Death of a Child,” June 1, 2023. https://www.cbp.gov/newsroom/speeches-and-statements/statement-cbp-acting-commissioner-troy-miller-investigation.

— U.S. Customs and Border Protection. “Update: Death in Custody of 8-Year-Old in Harlingen, Texas,” May 21, 2023. https://www.cbp.gov/newsroom/speeches-and-statements/update-death-custody-8-year-old-harlingen-texas.

— U.S. Customs and Border Protection. “Statement from CBP Acting Commissioner Troy Miller Regarding the Ongoing Investigation of In-Custody Death,” May 21, 2023. https://www.cbp.gov/newsroom/speeches-and-statements/statement-cbp-acting-commissioner-troy-miller-regarding-ongoing.

— U.S. Customs and Border Protection. “Statement from CBP,” May 17, 2023. https://www.cbp.gov/newsroom/speeches-and-statements/statement-cbp.

— Gonzalez, Valerie. “Mother of 8-Year-Old Girl Who Died in Border Patrol Custody Says Pleas for Hospital Care Were Denied.” Associated Press, May 20, 2023. https://apnews.com/article/border-patrol-custody-death-harlingen-8da5429f39cb7ac0ff4c9184a42d8ba2.

— Garcia, Armando. “CBP Ignored Pleas for Help before Migrant Girl’s Death, Parents Say.” ABC News, June 22, 2023. https://abcnews.go.com/US/cbp-pleas-migrant-girls-death-parents/story?id=100271491.

— Miroff, Nick. “CBP Reassigns Chief Medical Officer after Child’s Death in Border Custody.” Washington Post, June 15, 2023. https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2023/06/15/border-patrol-medical-care-child-death/.

— Spagat, Elliot. “Death of 8-Year-Old Girl in Border Patrol Custody Highlights Challenges Providing Medical Care.” AP News, May 22, 2023. https://apnews.com/article/border-patrol-custody-child-death-e6dbfde4986eb9e8a91284c3f80293df.

— Miroff, Nick. “Inquiry after Girl’s Death Reports Unsafe Medical Care in U.S. Border Facilities.” Washington Post, June 22, 2023. https://www.washingtonpost.com/immigration/2023/06/22/medical-care-unsafe-border-facilities-migrants/.

— Aleaziz, Hamed. “Border Patrol Officials Complained of ‘overuse of Hospitalization’ as 8-Year-Old Died.” Los Angeles Times, June 28, 2023. https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2023-06-28/8-year-old-border-patrol-death-fever-hospital.

— Univision. “Entierran a la niña que murió en custodia de la Patrulla Fronteriza y sus padres aseguran: ‘Buscaremos justicia.’” Univision, June 17, 2023. https://www.univision.com/noticias/inmigracion/padres-nina-8-anos-murio-custodia-patrulla-fronteriza-entierran.

— Gonzalez, Valerie, and Liset Cruz. “Balloons, Tears and Hugs as Family of Girl Who Died in Border Patrol Custody Holds New York Funeral.” AP News, June 16, 2023. https://apnews.com/article/border-patrol-anadith-custody-death-8cfee1e24758eefc21086ff3a2215943.

— Miroff, Nick. “Before Child Died in Custody, CBP Tried to Replace Medical Contractor.” Washington Post, August 28, 2023. https://www.washingtonpost.com/immigration/2023/08/25/border-medical-migrants-loyal-source/.

Sector(s): Rio Grande Valley

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Conditions in Custody, Denial of Medical Care, Fatal Encounter

Last Known Accountability Status: Shared with DHS OIG, Shared with Local Police, Under OPR Investigation

Victim Classification: Accompanied Child, Family Unit, Female, Panama

Mid-May 2023

According to a report by the International Rescue Committee, produced in coordination with six U.S., Mexican, and international NGOs, “in the initial days of monitoring after the Title 42 policy ended, CBP officers at Otay Mesa and Paso del Norte were observed directly turning away asylum seekers without CBP One appointments, telling them they would not be processed.”

The report added, “A CBP officer on the Paso del Norte bridge told a group of asylum seekers without CBP One appointments that asylum without a prearranged appointment ‘doesn’t exist anymore.’”

— “Limits on Access to Asylum After Title 42: One Month of Monitoring U.S.-Mexico Border Ports of Entry.” United States: International Rescue Committee, June 23, 2023. https://www.rescue.org/report/limits-access-asylum-after-title-42-one-month-monitoring-us-mexico-border-ports-entry.

Sector(s): El Paso Field Office, San Diego Field Office

Agency(ies): Office of Field Operations

Event Type(s): Denial of Access to Asylum

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: