52 Records of Alleged Abusive or Improper Conduct involving “Border Patrol” where the event type is “Denial of Protection to Most Vulnerable”

April 2, 2021

A report from the Kino Border Initiative (KBI) and NETWORK recounted a Guatemalan asylum seeker’s experience in custody in Border Patrol’s outpost at Sasabe, Arizona, and station in Tucson, Arizona.

A Guatemalan woman crossed into the United States walking through the desert. She became ill and fainted. When she came to, a Border Patrol Agent was standing over her. She was taken to an outpost and processed.

There, she told the agents about the violence she had faced, and that she had proof of threats she had received. The agent said he didn’t speak Spanish but that she should take it up with officers at the next station. In Tucson, she was made to remove her outerwear (her jacket and two shirts and a pair of pants) even though the facility was cold.

She was sent into room with a TV, and on the TV screen it said that if anyone was experiencing violence, they should speak to an agent. She then called the agents and said she wanted to apply for asylum. They told her that was unavailable because of the pandemic. The agents started yelling at her that she should have gone to a port of entry if she wanted asylum, and that she was breaking the law by coming this way. They said to her that she was doing what the mafia does, crossing the border illegally.

Additionally, officers threw the name of her abuser in her face and taunted her, telling her they were going to call him. She felt humiliated by the agent’s actions. By this time, she had had three separate agents decline to help her apply for asylum. She was expelled to Mexico the next morning.

As of 8/17/2021, KBI has received no response to this complaint [filed on June 15, 2021].

Due Process Denied (United States: Kino Border Initiative (KBI) and NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice, August 2021) https://networklobby.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/KINO-NETWORK-CBP-Abuses-consolidated.pdf.

Sector(s): Tucson

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

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

Last Known Accountability Status: Complaint Filed with CRCL, Complaint Filed with OPR

Victim Classification: Domestic Violence Victim, Female, Guatemala, Single Adult

Early April, 2021

The Kino Border Initiative reported Border Patrol’s expulsion to Mexico of a Guatemalan asylum seeker despite his claims of fear of return, and his claims to have suffered abduction and assault while in Arizona:

A Guatemalan man who entered the US to seek asylum earlier this month got lost while walking in the desert. As he and the man he was traveling with tried to find their way in the desert in southern Arizona, a group of three armed men dressed in black began firing shots at them. The armed men threw the men to the ground, tied their hands, covered their eyes with blindfolds, and took them to a house where they beat him, took his clothes off, tied him up, and left him outside for an entire day and night. The following day, the kidnappers left him on the side of the road, where he sought help and eventually laid down to await Border Patrol agents. The man attempted to assert his fear of traffickers in Mexico with Border Patrol Agents at the field station and later at the processing center in Tucson, but all officials with whom he spoke ignored his fear-based claims. BP agents returned him to Nogales, Mexico, where he is at risk of further attack by his traffickers.

— “April 15 Update From KBI” (Nogales: Kino Border Initiative, April 15, 2021).

Sector(s): Tucson

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

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

Last Known Accountability Status: Shared with Congressional Oversight Committees, Unknown

Victim Classification: Guatemala, Kidnap Victim, Single Adult

March, 2021

Human Rights Watch reported on the Title 42 expulsion of José M. (pseudonym), a gay man who fled Honduras and sought asylum by crossing from Ciudad Juárez to El Paso. “He said he had told US border officials that he is gay and that he was afraid to be sent to Mexico, but hours later CBP agents sent him to Mexico. Before expelling him, US officials made him throw away everything he had, including the few clothes he had.”

US: LGBT Asylum Seekers in Danger at the Border (New York: Human Rights Watch, May 31, 2022) https://www.hrw.org/news/2022/05/31/us-lgbt-asylum-seekers-danger-border.

Sector(s): El Paso

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Denial of Protection to Most Vulnerable, Non-Return of Belongings

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: Honduras, LGBTQ

March 23, 2021

A report from the Kino Border Initiative (KBI) and NETWORK recounted Border Patrol agents’ refusal to allow a Mexican migrant in custody to report a drug-related crime.

A Mexican man entered the United States when individuals associated with organized crime demanded he carry a backpack full of drugs into the United States and threatened him with a razor. When he refused, they beat him.

Once the Mexican man regained consciousness, he turned himself in to Border Patrol. He told agents what happened to him, where Border Patrol could find the drugs and the men who assaulted him who belonged to a criminal gang. Still, the agents kept the man in the vehicle the whole day, picking up other immigrants and giving him only water to drink.

Once they came to the CBP facility and he was processed, he repeated what had happened to him. The CBP agent there laughed and asked if he wanted to file a police report. When he said yes, the agent said it would take too long.

He was never given an opportunity to express his fears about returning to Mexico or give information about the crime that had been committed against him. He was never given medical attention while in CBP custody and was left alone in a cell for long stretches of time despite his weakened state. He was soon expelled back to Mexico.

KBI filed a March 29, 2021 complaint with the DHS Office on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL) and the CBP Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR). On April 23, CRCL emailed “that they received the complaint and forwarded it to the OIG. No details were provided about disciplinary actions for officers or recourse for victims of abuse.”

Due Process Denied (United States: Kino Border Initiative (KBI) and NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice, August 2021) https://networklobby.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/KINO-NETWORK-CBP-Abuses-consolidated.pdf.

Sector(s): Tucson

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Conditions in Custody, Denial of Food or Water, Denial of Medical Care, Denial of Protection to Most Vulnerable

Last Known Accountability Status: Complaint Filed with CRCL, Complaint Filed with OPR, Shared with DHS OIG

Victim Classification: Mexico, Single Adult

March 7, 2021

A report from the Kino Border Initiative (KBI) and NETWORK detailed the experience of a Cuban asylum seeker in Border Patrol custody in Yuma, Arizona and Campo (Pine Valley), California.

A Cuban man and his wife crossed into the United States and were detained. He was searched and their documents were confiscated. The man was separated from his wife, even though his wife told the agents they were together.

He was transferred to Campo BP Station in California, and when he was being transferred he was told he would be reunited with his wife at the detention center. While in detention, he was not allowed to shower for five days, and the lights were always kept on.

There, a border patrol agent interviewed him in Spanish. The agent asked him about his relatives but did not ask anything about asylum. The man asked if he could present his case. The CBP agent said no, as that was for a courtroom with a lawyer. The man asked why the agent didn’t ask him why he left Cuba, and the agent still said no. After five days, they transported the man to expel him, very early in the morning.

The man says he was disoriented but once he heard he was being expelled he said he can’t leave without his wife. He was told his wife would be joining him soon. This was not true. He was not reunited with his wife and was expelled to Tijuana, Baja California in the early morning hours. A week later, he tried to cross again at Yuma as his wife was still in CBP custody. He was then expelled to Nogales.

KBI filed a March 24, 2021 complaint with the DHS Office on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL) and the CBP Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR). On April 23, CRCL emailed that “they received the complaint and forwarded it to the OIG. No details were provided about disciplinary actions for officers or recourse for victims of abuse.”

Due Process Denied (United States: Kino Border Initiative (KBI) and NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice, August 2021) https://networklobby.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/KINO-NETWORK-CBP-Abuses-consolidated.pdf.

Sector(s): San Diego, Yuma

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Conditions in Custody, Confiscation of Documents, Denial of Protection to Most Vulnerable, Family Separation, Lying or Deliberate Misleading, Non-Return of Belongings

Last Known Accountability Status: Complaint Filed with CRCL, Complaint Filed with OPR, Shared with DHS OIG

Victim Classification: Cuba, Family Unit

February 27, 2021

The Kino Border Initiative reported:

Last weekend the Florence Project was alerted to a pregnant woman at a local hospital who was in Border Patrol custody. Fearing she would be removed without due process and concerned about the vulnerability of pregnant women at the border, the Florence Project requested she be released to the community rather than sent to Mexico. Border Patrol never responded. Two days later the woman reached out from Nogales, Sonora seeking aid.

— “March 4 Update From KBI” (Nogales: Kino Border Initiative, March 4, 2021).

Sector(s): Tucson

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

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

Last Known Accountability Status: Shared with Congressional Oversight Committees, Unknown

Victim Classification: Female, Pregnancy, Single Adult

February 17, 2021

A report from the Kino Border Initiative (KBI) and NETWORK recounted Border Patrol’s expulsion of an asylum-seeking family (husband, wife, and 7-month-old son) who had fled Guatemala

after the man’s brother was murdered by an organized crime group. The family was taken to an office near Sasabe, where they were never asked why they fled Guatemala or asked for the documents they had with them as proof of persecution. They were later taken to Tucson, and they were expelled the following day to Nogales, Sonora in the early morning.

KBI filed a February 24, 2021 complaint with the DHS Office on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL) and the CBP Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR). On March 8, CRCL emailed “that they received the complaint, recorded it in their database, and no further actions would be taken. No details were provided about disciplinary actions for officers or recourse for victims of abuse.”

Due Process Denied (United States: Kino Border Initiative (KBI) and NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice, August 2021) https://networklobby.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/KINO-NETWORK-CBP-Abuses-consolidated.pdf.

Sector(s): Tucson

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

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

Last Known Accountability Status: Complaint Filed with CRCL, Complaint Filed with OPR, No Further Action

Victim Classification: Family Unit, Guatemala

February 3, 2021

A report from the Kino Border Initiative (KBI) and NETWORK described Border Patrol agents’ rough treatment of an asylum-seeking family at a Nogales, Arizona port of entry.

A Salvadoran woman, her husband and two children traveled from El Salvador to Mexico initially to escape threats at home. Soon after, they also received threats in Mexico and decided to flee to the US. They approached the DeConcini port of entry in Nogales.

There, an agent shoved the woman who was eight months pregnant in the chest. The woman pleaded with the agent to not turn them back as they were fleeing danger in Mexico. The agents, both male and female, simply laughed at them when they explained the danger and said the family must go back. When the family said they had nowhere to go, the agents said that was not the agents’ problem. They forcibly removed them and took them to the Mexican immigration office at around 10:30 PM. The family slept by the line of cars entering the United States out of fear of navigating Nogales at night.

On the same day KBI filed the complaint [February 9, 2021], CBP OPR responded with the case number for the Joint Intake Center. Two weeks later, on 2/25/2021, KBI received an email from CRCL stating that they received the complaint, recorded it in their database, and will take no further action. Four months after the complaint was filed, on 6/2/2021, KBI received an email from CRCL saying they received the complaint and forwarded it to the OIG. No details were provided about disciplinary actions for officers or recourse for victims of abuse.

Due Process Denied (United States: Kino Border Initiative (KBI) and NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice, August 2021) https://networklobby.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/KINO-NETWORK-CBP-Abuses-consolidated.pdf.

Sector(s): Tucson

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Dangerous Deportation, Denial of Protection to Most Vulnerable, Use of Force

Last Known Accountability Status: Complaint Filed with CRCL, Complaint Filed with OPR, Shared with DHS OIG

Victim Classification: El Salvador, Family Unit, Pregnancy

February 1, 2021

A report from the Kino Border Initiative (KBI) and NETWORK discussed a Guatemalan mother’s inability to request asylum while in Border Patrol custody in Arizona.

A Guatemalan woman and her two children (including a 14-year-old son) fled Guatemala and were detained in the desert upon entry to the US by Border Patrol and taken to the Tucson Station. At the facility, the woman tried to talk to the agents and tell them she could not return to Guatemala because she had suffered violence. The agent said if he allowed her asylum that he would be breaking the law and if he did it for her the agents would have to do it for others. Border Patrol said they had no legal right to seek asylum. They were expelled to Nogales, Sonora. The family was harassed and threatened in Mexico after being expelled.

KBI filed a February 4, 2021 complaint with the DHS Office on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL) and the CBP Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR). On April 1, CRCL emailed “that they received the complaint and forwarded it to the OIG. No details were provided about disciplinary actions for officers or recourse for victims of abuse.”

Due Process Denied (United States: Kino Border Initiative (KBI) and NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice, August 2021) https://networklobby.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/KINO-NETWORK-CBP-Abuses-consolidated.pdf.

Sector(s): Tucson

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

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

Last Known Accountability Status: Complaint Filed with CRCL, Complaint Filed with OPR, Shared with DHS OIG

Victim Classification: Family Unit, Guatemala

February 1, 2021

A report from the Kino Border Initiative (KBI) and NETWORK told of a Guatemalan woman, fleeing violence with her two-year-old child, whom Border Patrol expelled into Mexico twice in two weeks without providing a chance to make her case for asylum.

The woman has photo evidence of violence that she has faced in Guatemala. She requested asylum the first time she crossed the border [January 15, 2021], but the agents only listened to the unaccompanied minors in the facility and did not speak to the adults or ask questions. She tried showing agents her documentation to no avail.

The second time [February 1, 2021], she and her daughter were taken to two different border facilities, and each time she was denied the opportunity to speak. She said that a man in a black uniform attempted to speak to them but was asked not to by male agents in green uniforms. She was expelled to Nogales, Sonora.

KBI filed a February 15, 2021 complaint with the DHS Office on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL) and the CBP Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR). On February 25, CRCL emailed “that they received the complaint, recorded it in their database, and no further actions would be taken. No details were provided about disciplinary actions for officers or recourse for victims of abuse.”

Due Process Denied (United States: Kino Border Initiative (KBI) and NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice, August 2021) https://networklobby.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/KINO-NETWORK-CBP-Abuses-consolidated.pdf.

Sector(s): Tucson, Yuma

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

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

Last Known Accountability Status: Complaint Filed with CRCL, Complaint Filed with OPR, No Further Action

Victim Classification: Family Unit, Guatemala

January 31, 2021

A report from the Kino Border Initiative (KBI) and NETWORK described a Honduran woman’s inability, while in Border Patrol custody, to seek asylum and avoid Title 42 expulsion into Mexico.

A Honduran woman fled domestic abuse from a partner in Honduras who is connected to organized crime. She filed a police report in Honduras and he threatened her even more.

While traveling through Mexico, she feared being forced into prostitution to survive. She was able to avoid this. On the way to the United States, she was kidnapped by the cartel and ransomed for one thousand dollars. When a friend was able to pay the ransom, the cartel dropped her and 38 others off in the desert.

Once she entered the United States through the desert she was detained by Border Patrol. At that time, she told the Border Patrol agent she wanted a lawyer to claim asylum. The agent said she will be able to ask for one at the next facility. At the next facility she asked again and said she needed help to file for protection. The agent she spoke to at that facility knew Spanish. This agent said he couldn’t do anything about it and that she could tell someone in the next facility she will be transferred to. Then she was taken to the Tucson Border Patrol station where she told another agent she wanted a lawyer to file for asylum. The agent said he was not going to violate immigration law for her or anyone else. He said she did not have rights because she arrived illegally. She tried to tell her story of violence and persecution to several other agents, but the first one didn’t allow her to speak to anyone else and just shouted at her to get on the bus.

She was expelled to Nogales, Sonora. She fears that Mexico is also unsafe for her since it is where the cartel who kidnapped her operates. While in Mexico, she has been “approached by men in a dark vehicle” and she worries that she will be attacked.

KBI filed a February 5, 2021 complaint with the DHS Office on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL) and the CBP Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR). On February 25, CRCL emailed “that they received the complaint, recorded it intheir database, and no further actions would be taken. No details were provided about disciplinary actions for officers or recourse for victims of abuse.”

Due Process Denied (United States: Kino Border Initiative (KBI) and NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice, August 2021) https://networklobby.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/KINO-NETWORK-CBP-Abuses-consolidated.pdf.

Sector(s): Tucson

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Dangerous Deportation, Denial of Protection to Most Vulnerable, Lying or Deliberate Misleading

Last Known Accountability Status: Complaint Filed with CRCL, Complaint Filed with OPR, No Further Action

Victim Classification: Domestic Violence Victim, Female, Honduras, Kidnap Victim

January 2021

A report from the Kino Border Initiative (KBI) and NETWORK detailed the experience of a Honduran woman who had fled, with two teenage sons, after organized crime killed several members of her immediate family.

The guide who was taking them across the border instructed one of the boys to cross first. The woman and the younger son crossed later and were detained at the border in Southern Arizona. CBP officers shouted at them in English, which the woman and boy did not speak. Later, at the CBP station, she told an agent that she wanted to request asylum, and that she had a daughter who was living in the US with special needs. He said that at this time there is no access to asylum for single women. He said only unaccompanied minors could access asylum. She began to cry and said nothing else. She and her younger son were expelled to Mexico.

KBI filed a January 27, 2021 complaint with the DHS Office on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL) and the CBP Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR). On February 5, CRCL emailed “that they received the complaint and forwarded it to the OIG. No details were provided about disciplinary actions for officers or recourse for victims of abuse.”

Due Process Denied (United States: Kino Border Initiative (KBI) and NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice, August 2021) https://networklobby.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/KINO-NETWORK-CBP-Abuses-consolidated.pdf.

Sector(s): Tucson

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

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

Last Known Accountability Status: Complaint Filed with CRCL, Complaint Filed with OPR, Shared with DHS OIG

Victim Classification: Family Unit, Honduras

January 17, 2021

A report from the Kino Border Initiative (KBI) and NETWORK discussed the experience of a Venezuelan man detained by Border Patrol after entering the United States.

He had narrowly escaped criminals who tried to pull him back to Mexico. They managed to take his backpack, which had his phone and other belongings. It was soon after this that he was detained. He was taken to Ajo Station, where he was forced to sign several documents, most of which were in English, a language he does not speak. He fled Venezuela because of persecution he experienced. When he told the agents he was afraid to return to Venezuela, they asked him which was more dangerous: Mexico or Venezuela. He told them he thought both were dangerous. The following day he was forced to sign papers and said he was being expelled under MPP; he was also told he would be given an opportunity to speak with an immigration official in Tucson the following day. This was a lie; he was never given this opportunity. He was transported to Tucson and expelled to Nogales, Sonora two days later.

KBI filed a January 22, 2021 complaint with the DHS Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL) and the CBP Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR). On January 29, CRCL emailed “that they received the complaint, recorded it in their database, and no further actions would be taken. No details were provided about disciplinary actions for officers or recourse for victims of abuse.”

Due Process Denied (United States: Kino Border Initiative (KBI) and NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice, August 2021) https://networklobby.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/KINO-NETWORK-CBP-Abuses-consolidated.pdf.

Sector(s): Tucson

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Denial of Protection to Most Vulnerable, Lying or Deliberate Misleading

Last Known Accountability Status: Complaint Filed with CRCL, Complaint Filed with OPR, No Further Action

Victim Classification: Single Adult, Venezuela

Mid-December, 2020

The Kino Border Initiative reported:

A pregnant Guatemalan woman arrived at KBI last week after being expelled under Title 42. She traveled north through Mexico alone, and crossed with a guide into the Arizona desert where she turned herself in to Border Patrol. Once detained, she requested the Border Patrol agents hear her fear claim to process her for asylum. They assured her they would do so. She overheard the agents saying they were sending her back to Mexico, and asked why, when they had assured her they would hear her fear declaration. She pleaded with them not to expel her to Mexico. Although they knew she was 5 months pregnant, they pulled her, forcibly put her into the Border Patrol vehicle and threatened to handcuff her if she resisted. Border Patrol agents then expelled her to Nogales, Sonora.

— “December 17 Update From KBI” (Nogales: Kino Border Initiative, December 17, 2021).

Sector(s): Tucson

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Conditions of Arrest or Apprehension, Denial of Protection to Most Vulnerable, Lying or Deliberate Misleading

Last Known Accountability Status: Shared with Congressional Oversight Committees, Unknown

Victim Classification: Female, Guatemala, Pregnancy, Single Adult

November 4, 2020

A report from the Kino Border Initiative (KBI) and NETWORK discussed the experience of a Guatemalan man who entered the United States, was detained by an Arizona state trooper, and ended up in Border Patrol custody.

The agents took him to a Border Patrol station. He expressed fear to the agents about returning to Mexico. The agents’ supervisor then said they will decide if they were going to send the Guatemalan man to Guatemala or Nogales. Later, he was taken to the border with a group of other immigrants by the Border Patrol. Everyone was asked to walk across the border to Mexico. He asked the agents why he was being sent to Mexico when he was Guatemalan. An agent hit him with a baton on the knee and threatened to hit him on the head. He was in a lot of pain and his knee became swollen. After that, some other agents came and told him to seek out the Guatemalan Consulate in Nogales and ask about his rights in Mexico. He walked to a park in Nogales, Sonora and slept in a park.

KBI spoke with the local CBP OPR representative on the same day they filed the complaint. OIG had already opened a complaint at this time. An OIG investigator followed up with KBI. Since that date, KBI has not received any updates as to consequences for the officer involved or whether the victim received any recourse.

Due Process Denied (United States: Kino Border Initiative (KBI) and NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice, August 2021) https://networklobby.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/KINO-NETWORK-CBP-Abuses-consolidated.pdf.

Sector(s): Tucson

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

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

Last Known Accountability Status: Complaint Filed with CRCL, Complaint Filed with OPR, Shared with DHS OIG, Under OPR Investigation

Victim Classification: Guatemala, Single Adult

November 2, 2020

A report from the Kino Border Initiative (KBI) and NETWORK discussed the experience of a Guatemalan woman who crossed the border and was “detained by CBP” with her one-year-old daughter and eight-year-old son.

At Tucson station, when they were being transferred, the Guatemalan woman asked where she was being taken; the CBP agent replied she did not know, but that they might take the woman’s fear declaration at the next station. The woman was taken to Nogales. The woman asked an agent to take her fear declaration, but the agent said CBP doesn’t do that in Nogales. Then the woman asked another agent who gave her food to take her fear declaration. That CBP agent didn’t speak Spanish and asked another agent to come over to interpret. She told them that a family member had been killed in Guatemala and that she also feared returning to Mexico as she had been robbed there. The agents told her that her case doesn’t matter since there are gangs in the U.S. too. The woman and her children were expelled to Mexico soon after.

KBI filed a November 6, 2020 complaint with the DHS Office on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL) and the CBP Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR). On January 4, 2021, CRCL emailed “that they received the complaint, recorded it in their database, and no further actions would be taken. No details were provided about disciplinary actions for officers or recourse for victims of abuse.”

Due Process Denied (United States: Kino Border Initiative (KBI) and NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice, August 2021) https://networklobby.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/KINO-NETWORK-CBP-Abuses-consolidated.pdf.

Sector(s): Tucson, Tucson Field Office

Agency(ies): Border Patrol, Office of Field Operations

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

Last Known Accountability Status: Complaint Filed with CRCL, Complaint Filed with OPR, No Further Action

Victim Classification: Family Unit, Guatemala

Late October, 2020

The Kino Border Initiative reported:

A middle-aged Salvadoran woman who left San Salvador in August is one of over a dozen migrants who arrived in Nogales in the last two weeks and reported multiple abuses during their journey. In Mexico, she suffered poor conditions in detention, where detainees slept 15 to a room on the floor, and were not provided toilet paper, soap, toothpaste or any personal protective equipment, despite the COVID-19 pandemic. Although she attempted to request international protection with US Border Patrol agents twice, both times agents refused to hear her fear claim or connect her to an official who could provide the appropriate fear assessment.

— “October 29 Update From KBI” (Nogales: Kino Border Initiative, October 29, 2020).

Sector(s): Tucson

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

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

Last Known Accountability Status: Shared with Congressional Oversight Committees, Unknown

Victim Classification: El Salvador, Female, Single Adult

Late September, 2020

The Kino Border Initiative reported:

Earlier this week, a young couple with their baby who fled threats from organized crime in Honduras attempted to cross through the desert in Arizona to request asylum. They turned themselves in to Border Patrol near Tucson, and expressed their fear of returning to Honduras as well as the discrimination they have encountered in Mexico after being detained multiple times, denied health care amidst a serious illness in detention, and having wages stolen by an employer. The BP agents claimed they did not speak Spanish, and told them they could only request asylum at a port of entry with a CBP officer. When the family was returned to Mexico, they approached the downtown Nogales port of entry, only to be rejected. The CBP agent they spoke with refused to take any steps to assess their fear claims and turned them away.

— “October 1 Update from KBI” (Nogales: Kino Border Initiative, October 1, 2020).

Sector(s): Tucson, Tucson Field Office

Agency(ies): Border Patrol, Office of Field Operations

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

Last Known Accountability Status: Shared with Congressional Oversight Committees, Unknown

Victim Classification: Family Unit, Honduras

Early September, 2020

The Kino Border Initiative reported:

A father of two who fled death threats in Nicaragua arrived in Nogales last week after attempting to cross between ports of entry to request asylum in the U.S. After being abandoned by a guide and waiting with his nephew in the desert for days without food or water, he was detained by Border Patrol. He fainted when they arrived at the detention center, and then was hospitalized for 9 days, during which time he received dialysis for the severe damage done to his kidneys by dehydration.

Border Patrol agents removed him from the hospital in a wheelchair before he received official release from the hospital, and deported him to Mexico with no shoes, socks or underwear, only the hospital gown he was wearing. Hardly able to walk, he was deported alone and forced to walk barefoot over rocky ground to the Mexican immigration office. This, after expressing to numerous Border Patrol agents and hospital staff his fear of returning to Mexico and desire to seek asylum in the U.S.

— “September 17 Update” (Nogales: Kino Border Initiative, September 2020).

Sector(s): Tucson

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Dangerous Deportation, Denial of Medical Care, Denial of Protection to Most Vulnerable, Return of Vulnerable Individuals

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: Medical Condition, Nicaragua, Single Adult

Early September, 2020

The Kino Border Initiative reported:

A Cuban woman, seven months pregnant, and who had been waiting for ten months with her husband to be processed for asylum in Nogales, recently attempted two border crossings in one day in a small Arizona border town. Despite the couple’s repeated expression of their fear of returning to Mexico to Border Patrol agents, the wife’s vulnerability as a pregnant woman, and the fact that Mexico has not agreed to receive Cubans under Title 42 expulsions, the two were quickly returned to Mexico both times. Rather than further assessing their fear claims, a Border Patrol agent instead suggested the woman might break her own water to prematurely induce labor as her only way to stay in the U.S.

— “September 3 Update” (Nogales: Kino Border Initiative, September 2020).

Sector(s): Tucson

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Abusive Language, Denial of Protection to Most Vulnerable, Inappropriate Deportation, Return of Vulnerable Individuals

Last Known Accountability Status: Complaint Filed with CRCL, Shared with Congressional Oversight Committees

Victim Classification: Cuba, Family Unit, Pregnancy

Mid-July, 2020

The Kino Border Initiative reported:

We filed a complaint on behalf of a Cuban couple, who was kidnapped for months in Mexico. A government official in southern Mexico put them in contact with the woman who ended up kidnapping them. After several months they managed to escape, but the woman has continued to send threatening messages and says that she knows they are in Nogales.

When they crossed into the US and were detained, they tried to express their fear of return to Border Patrol agents. However, the agent responsible for processing them only replied “you think I’m here to solve your problems? … All Cubans come here with the same story” and “you are going back no matter what and you will have to figure out what to do.”

Another agent told them there was nothing he could do besides give them a speedy court date. He scheduled them for a July hearing, which has since been rescheduled to October due to the court cancellations. Both were returned to Nogales, Sonora with no access to an interview with a USCIS officer to assess their fear of return.

— “July 23 Update From KBI” (Nogales: Kino Border Initiative, July 23, 2020).

Sector(s): Tucson

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

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

Last Known Accountability Status: Complaint Filed with CRCL, Shared with Congressional Oversight Committees

Victim Classification: Cuba, Family Unit, Kidnap Victim

July 7, 2020

A complaint to the DHS Inspector-General, submitted by the ACLU Foundation of San Diego and Imperial Counties and ACLU Border Rights Center, denounced “CBP officials’ egregious verbal abuse of detained individuals,” including “many instances in which Border Patrol agents verbally abused individuals, including children, in their custody,” including asylum seekers.

Agents berated migrants for traveling to the United States and attempting to exercise their legal right to seek asylum.[16] “Xenophobic nationalism is widespread,” and derogatory comments are often accompanied by threatened or actual physical violence.[17] Agents bully LGBTQ people, equate migrants to animals, and ridicule and humiliate parents trying to protect their children.[18]

The complaint cited numerous explicit examples, some of them reproduced below. All are from interviews with migrants completed between March and July of 2019 with people recently released from Border Patrol custody in San Diego and Tijuana.

This abuse may involve bullying, harassment, threats of violence or other harm, denigration, ridicule, racism, and misstatements about U.S. immigration law, including an individual’s right to seek asylum. Recently detained individuals related the following statements to our investigator: [28]

– “Olvídate del asilo, a la mejor te quitamos a tu hija.”
“Forget about asylum, we might just take away your daughter.”
—Border Patrol agent to woman while interrogating her about why she came to the United States.

– “No mantenemos hijos de nadie.”
“We don’t take care of anyone’s children.”
—Border Patrol agent to a mother when she asked for food for her 1-year old child who had not had any food to eat for an entire day.

– “Cabrona, échate para atrás.”
“You bastard, get back over there.”
—Border Patrol agent to woman as she was entering the country and injured from crossing the border wall.

– “¿Desgraciada, ¿porque tienes tantos niños si no los puedes cuidar? Puta, prostituta.”
“Disgraced woman, why do you have so many kids if you can’t take care of them? Slut, prostitute.”
—Border Patrol agent to a detained mother.

– “¿Cuáles de ustedes maricas sufren de asma?”
“Which of you faggots suffer from asthma?”
—Border Patrol agent to a holding cell of young boys aged 13 to 17.

– “If you keep complaining I will put you with the dogs.”
—Border Patrol agent to woman when she refused to undress for a search during apprehension.

– “Son indios de pata rajada, solo usan sus hijos para entrar.”
“You are all [derogatory expression referring to indigenous peoples], you only use your children to enter [the United States].”
—Border Patrol agent to detained father.

– “¡Aquí no se hace lo que voz dice, se hace lo que yo digo!”
“Here we don’t do what you say, you do what I say!
—Border Patrol agent to pregnant woman asking for water.

– “Are you f***ing retarded? Stop playing with that s***.”
—Border Patrol agent to children playing in holding cell.

– “Váyanse de aquí, ¿qué hacen aquí sí ni hablan inglés?, no valen nada.”
“Get out of here, what are you doing here if you don’t even speak English, you are worthless.”
—Border Patrol agent to woman and her family upon apprehension.

– “No estás en tu casa, ¿tienes mierda en la cabeza?”
“You’re not at home, do you have s*** for brains?”
—Border Patrol agent to woman who asked for a plastic cup to drink water.

– “Joder con ustedes, por eso no mejoran en su país.”
“I’ve f***ing had it with you, this is why you guys don’t advance in your country.”
—Border Patrol agent to detained woman who did not understand his Spanish.

– “I don’t have to tell you, you broke the law, you have no rights.”
—Border Patrol agent to woman when she asked what was on the form she was being instructed to sign.

– “¡Levántense, puercas!”
“Get up, pigs!”
—Border Patrol agent to a cell of detained women.

– “You are an idiot but you sure are good at popping out kids.”
—Border Patrol agent to detained mother.

— “Re: U.S. Border Patrol’s Verbal Abuse of Detained Individuals” (San Diego and El Paso: ACLU Foundation San Diego and Imperial Counties, ACLU Border Rights Center, July 7, 2020) https://cbpabusestest2.files.wordpress.com/2020/10/2020-07-07-dhs-oig-cmplt-4-final.pdf.

Footnotes from above:

[16]: Josiah Heyman, Jeremy Slack & Daniel E. Martínez, Why Border Patrol Agents and Cbp Officers Should Not Serve as Asylum Officers, Ctr. For Migration Studies (June 21, 2019), https://cmsny.org/publications/heyman-slack-martinez-062119/.

[17]: Id.

[18]: See, e.g., id.; Grace Panetta, Border Patrol officials reportedly forced a Honduran migrant to walk around a detention center holding a sign reading ‘I like men’ in Spanish, BUS. INSIDER, July 5, 2019, https://www.businessinsider.com/detained-migrant-forced-hold-sign-reading-i-like-men-report-2019-7?op=1; Nick Valencia, et al., Border Patrol agents allegedly tried to shame a migrant by making him hold a sign reading ‘I like men,’ emails show, CNN, July 4, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/07/04/us/honduran-migrant-shamed-border-patrol/index.html; Andrew Gumbel, ‘They Were Laughing at Us’: Immigrants Tell of Cruelty, Illness and Filth in US Detention, GUARDIAN, Sept. 12, 2018, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/sep/12/us-immigration-detention-facilities; Cristina Novoa, 5 Revelations From Children in Border Patrol Facilities, CENTER AM. PROGRESS, July 3, 2019, https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/early-childhood/news/2019/07/03/471808/5-revelations-children-border-patrol-facilities/ (“Beyond demonstrating a shocking lack of compassion toward frightened children, testimonies also show that some guards appear to deliberately scare children in their custody”).

[28]: Most of ACLU’s interviews were conducted in Spanish, with contemporaneous notes taken in Spanish by our investigator. Where our notes contain the original Spanish quotes, we have provided that original (as relayed by the interviewee to our investigator) as well as our English translation. At times, our investigator memorialized a statement in English only during her interview (via simultaneous translation). In such cases, we have reproduced her English translation here.
Many of these quotes use degrading and offensive language that we hesitated to reprint. In the end, we decided to reproduce the language reported to remain as faithful as possible to the accounts of those we interviewed.

Sector(s): San Diego

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Abusive Language, Conditions in Custody, Denial of Food or Water, Denial of Medical Care, Denial of Protection to Most Vulnerable, LGBT Discrimination or Harassment, Lying or Deliberate Misleading, Racial Discrimination or Profiling

Last Known Accountability Status: Shared with DHS OIG

Victim Classification: Family Unit, Female, Pregnancy, Single Adult

July 4, 2020

The Kino Border Initiative reported:

A Salvadoran mother who was detained and expelled on July 4th with her 14-year-old daughter, who is asthmatic, reported that in the few hours in custody Border Patrol agents at the Nogales Station yelled at them repeatedly. One agent gathered the group and told everyone “send the message back to everyone that even if you have asylum cases and even if you have kids there would be no options in the US for you.” He told them “tell others that you would never triumph in the US.” She and her daughter were quickly returned to Mexico despite their fear of return and were never given a chance to share additional information on the persecution that they had fled in El Salvador.

— “July 9 Update From KBI” (Nogales: Kino Border Initiative, July 9, 2020).

Sector(s): Tucson

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

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

Last Known Accountability Status: Shared with Congressional Oversight Committees, Unknown

Victim Classification: El Salvador, Family Unit

July 4, 2020

The Kino Border Initiative reported:

A Guatemalan mother and her four children who had fled persecution in their home country entered the US on July 4th with a packet of evidence related to their asylum case, including police reports that document their attempts to seek protection. When apprehended by Border Patrol, she tried to show agents that evidence.

Instead, two ASID (Alien Smuggler Identification and Deterrence) agents interrogated her for around half an hour about who she had paid and how she had crossed. They refused to listen to her or look at any documents related to her asylum claim and threatened that if she didn’t give them the information they wanted on the smuggler she would face serious consequences. They asked her for her husband’s number. Since he is in the US and is in the asylum process, she thought that they would call him as part of processing her for asylum. Instead, they only called her husband to ask whether he paid the cartel and, if so, how much money

Before expelling the mother and her four children, a Border Patrol agent said to her that she should pass on the message of: “Don’t come here. You aren’t going to get anything. If you bring kids, you won’t accomplish anything.”

— “July 9 Update From KBI” (Nogales: Kino Border Initiative, July 9, 2020).

Sector(s): Tucson

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

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

Last Known Accountability Status: Shared with Congressional Oversight Committees, Unknown

Victim Classification: Family Unit, Guatemala

May 27, 2020

The Kino Border Initiative reported, “A young Salvadoran woman who crossed the border to seek asylum expressed her fear of returning to her country of origin to the Border Patrol agents that apprehended her. The agents responded by laughing in her face.”

— Kino Border Initiative, “May 27 Update From KBI”, May 2020.

Sector(s): Tucson

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

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

Last Known Accountability Status: Shared with Congressional Oversight Committees, Unknown

Victim Classification: El Salvador, Female, Single Adult