2 Records of Alleged Abusive or Improper Conduct in March 2020

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

March 27, 2020

A complaint filed with the DHS Inspector-General by ACLU Texas and Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center raised concerns that, at its El Paso “Station 1” facility, Border Patrol had “failed to take even the most basic actions to prevent an outbreak of COVID-19 or mitigate the risk of harm to migrants, particularly the most vulnerable.”

Specifically, notwithstanding the threat from COVID-19, Border Patrol has in its El Paso Station 1 facility:

* Held over 150 persons in a single room with persons exhibiting flu-like symptoms;

* Failed to provide information to detained individuals on the COVID-19 pandemic, such as recommended Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines for preventing transmission of the virus; [1]

* Held people in cells where they are forced to be in close contact with each other, including by sleeping approximately three feet apart;

* Failed to provide detained individuals with sufficient soap. For example, migrants reported that in one bathroom, only one of six sinks had a soap dispenser that in fact contained soap;

* Provided only a single square of toilet paper per use;

* Denied detained individuals access to hand sanitizer;

* Failed to provide adequate medical screening of detained individuals no texhibiting symptoms of illness; and

* Failed to ensure uniform access to personal protective equipment for everyone in the detention facility.

— “Re: Border Patrol Station 1 in El Paso, Texas: Failure to Adequately Respond to COVID-19 Pandemic” (El Paso: ACLU of Texas, ACLU Border Rights Center, Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center, March 27, 2020): 169 https://www.aclu.org/sites/default/files/field_document/2021_03_03_aclu_complaint_appendix.pdf.

Footnote from above:

[1] CDC, “Interim Guidance on Management of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Correctional and Detention Facilities,” March 23, 2020, available at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/correction- detention/guidance-correctional-detention.html.

Sector(s): El Paso

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Conditions in Custody, Denial of Medical Care, Disregard of Public Health

Last Known Accountability Status: Shared with DHS OIG

Victim Classification:

March 23, 2020

Voice of San Diego reported:

On March 23, U.S. Border Patrol officers stopped Gilmer Barrios at a checkpoint on I-15 north between Fallbrook and Temecula. Barrios, who had a pending immigration case to gain legal status in the U.S., was on his way home to Temecula from San Diego County when he passed an immigration checkpoint residents say has been largely dormant for years, but has become active again during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Border agents quickly deported Barrios to Tijuana. Barrios had an open case in U.S. immigration court, no prior deportation order and is a Guatemalan citizen—so if he was going to be deported, it shouldn’t have been to Tijuana. After 21 days in Tijuana, with help of the Guatemalan consul general in Los Angeles, he was brought back to the United States.

— “Border Patrol Activity in Rural North County Alarms Farmworkers, Advocates” (San Diego: Voice of San Diego, May 27, 2020 https://www.voiceofsandiego.org/topics/government/immigration-enforcement-efforts-in-rural-north-county-alarm-farmworkers-advocates/.

Sector(s): San Diego

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Inappropriate Deportation

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: Guatemala, Single Adult