13 Records of Alleged Abusive or Improper Conduct in February 2021

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

February 28, 2021

A report from the Kino Border Initiative (KBI) and NETWORK reproduced a Honduran woman’s account of the treatment that she, her daughter, her neighbor, and her neighbor’s daughter received in Border Patrol custody in Arizona, before being expelled into Mexico.

They were taken to a border facility which had other immigrants. The agents took the fingerprints in a rough manner, which caused her daughter to cry out in Spanish that her mom was good and the police should not take her away. The agents then got angry and insulted them, calling them “rats.” Their belongings were confiscated (bags, clothes, diapers, formula for babies). They did not give them water when they asked for some because they were thirsty from walking. Three hours later, they gave them juice and crackers. Despite the facility being cold, they were not permitted to put on any outerwear they brought with them.

The next day, when they were being transported out of the facility and the woman asked for their jackets, an agent threatened to shoot them; saying “you should have thought about that before you brought your daughter here” and “Don’t move! I’ve got a gun and I am not afraid to use it.” Her daughter’s lips were cracked because of the cold. While they were being transferred, they were kept out in the cold while the agents went to a place with heat. When she asked for a new diaper for her daughter, the agent denied her this. Her daughter went 18 hours in a soiled diaper. They were expelled to Nogales.

On 3/31/2021, three weeks after the initial complaint was filed [March 5], KBI received an email from CRCL which stated, “CRCL has reviewed the information you provided, in which Ms. Ramos Euceda alleged that she and her minor daughter were mistreated by US Border Patrol (USBP) agents following their apprehension by USBP and experienced inadequate conditions of detention at the Nogales Border Patrol Station while in USBP custody. Based on information we received from other sources, CRCL is investigating allegations of violations of civil rights and civil liberties in the Tucson Border Patrol Sector, including Nogales. CRCL plans to conduct an onsite investigation of the Tucson Sector later this year, and we will consider the allegations and concerns you sent us on behalf of Ms. Ramos Euceda.” No additional 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): Abusive Language, Conditions in Custody, Denial of Food or Water, Non-Return of Belongings, Threat of Violence

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

Victim Classification: Family Unit, Honduras

Late February, 2021

A report from Human Rights First discussed the separation of an adult Cuban asylum seeker from his mother in California.

DHS separated a 22-year-old Cuban asylum seeker from his mother in late February 2021 when they entered the United States in California to request protection, detaining him for over three months. Even after he established a credible fear of persecution in late March 2021, ICE continued to detain the young man in the Otay Mesa Detention Center until June 2021. He was released weeks after his attorney at Human Rights First filed a parole request.

“I’m a Prisoner Here”: Biden Administration Policies Lock Up Asylum Seekers (New York: Human Rights First, April 21, 2022) https://www.humanrightsfirst.org/resource/i-m-prisoner-here-biden-administration-policies-lock-asylum-seekers.

Sector(s): Border-Wide

Agency(ies): CBP, ICE

Event Type(s): Family Separation

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: Cuba, Family Unit

Late February, 2021

The Kino Border Initiative reported:

Last week 2 unaccompanied minors were returned to Nogales, Sonora under Title 42, despite guidance that these individuals should not be subject to expulsion. One of these minors was a 17-year-old Guatemalan girl who a Border Patrol agent accused of lying about her age. BP returned her to Mexico at 8PM, and she was forced to stay the night outside, until she found help in the morning.

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

Sector(s): Tucson

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Dangerous Deportation, Expulsion of Unaccompanied Minor

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

Victim Classification: Female, Guatemala, Unaccompanied Child

Late February, 2021

The Kino Border Initiative reported:

Last week, a young Guatemalan woman who crossed the border through the desert was approached by Border Patrol agents traveling on four wheelers. When she tried to run, one agent hit her with his four wheeler. The impact threw her into a cluster of thorny bushes. When she arrived at KBI, she was in a great deal of pain. Her legs were throbbing, and she had thorns embedded in the skin on her legs and back.

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

Sector(s): Tucson

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Conditions of Arrest or Apprehension, Pedestrian Strike

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

Victim Classification: Female, Guatemala, Single Adult

Late February, 2021

The Kino Border Initiative reported:

A young Salvadoran man traveling with his sister arrived at our migrant center after being expelled under Title 42 last week. While he was in CBP custody, a Border Patrol agent yelled at the group he was traveling with: “Don’t move, you “M—- F—-rs.” The agent threatened that if they so much as moved, he would release the dog to “tear them into sh–.” While detained by CBP, they did not receive any food, and were not allowed to go to the bathroom until they repeatedly insisted. They were expelled to Nogales, Sonora at 12AM, when the Mexican immigration office was closed and there was no one there to receive them, so they slept outside the INM office in the cold. When they arrived at KBI, they had gone about 3 days without eating.

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

Sector(s): Tucson

Agency(ies): Border Patrol, CBP

Event Type(s): Abusive Language, Conditions in Custody, Dangerous Deportation, Denial of Food or Water, Threat of Violence

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

Victim Classification: El Salvador, 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 13, 2021

The Dallas Morning News told the story of Pedro Gómez, from Guatemala, and Jhon Jairo Uscha Alcoser, from Ecuador, whom Border Patrol expelled into Mexico while injured.

The men ended up in Border Patrol custody after falling from the border wall in late January. Gómez told the Morning News:

“I couldn’t even get up, so I crawled inside the migra vehicle,” said Gomez, after falling off the wall in late January. At one point, he says he was told he was going to be taken to a U.S. hospital, but instead was dropped off at the border crossing nearly 90 miles from where he fell off the wall near El Paso. His ankles are broken and he cannot walk.

Uscha Alcoser, the Ecuadorian, “said he told Border Patrol agents he couldn’t move and was ’screaming in excruciating pain.’”

But “they said ‘stand up, stand up.’ I don’t know where I found the strength.” He says he was sent back to Mexico, dragging his feet as another migrant held him up. X-Rays later revealed broken tendons and a fractured back and pelvis, Sosa [Pastor Rosalio Sosa, who runs a network of shelters in Palomas, Chihuahua, Mexico] said.

Border Patrol expelled them, using the Title 42 pandemic authority, into the small town of Palomas, across from Columbus, New Mexico, far from where they fell from the wall. The agents “dumped us in Mexico like garbage, a piece of trash,” Gómez said.

Border Patrol disputed the men’s account:

The Border Patrol said “records indicate that neither individual you mention presented illness or injury during their brief encounters with our agents.” The statement added that agents “perform their jobs with the utmost professionalism and display a high level of respect and dignity towards the many people that are encountered daily” and encouraged anyone who “believe they have been mistreated” to file a complaint.

— Alfredo Corchado, “Injured migrants say Border Patrol sent them back to Mexico after they fell off Trump’s wall” (Dallas: The Dallas Morning News, February 13, 2021) https://www.dallasnews.com/news/immigration/2021/02/14/injured-migrants-say-border-patrol-sent-them-back-to-mexico-after-they-fell-off-trumps-wall/.

Sector(s): El Paso

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Dangerous Deportation, Denial of Medical Care

Last Known Accountability Status: No Steps Taken

Victim Classification: Disability, Ecuador, Guatemala, Medical Condition, Single Adult

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 2, 2021

The Kino Border Initiative reported:

Border Patrol expelled a group of 43 Central American and Mexican migrants to downtown Nogales last Tuesday [Feb. 2nd] at 11PM. One Honduran man in the group shared that BP agents did not give them any directives about where they could go to find shelter, nor were any Mexican officials there to receive them upon arrival. The group dispersed, and he continued walking with 2 other migrants. They asked a man on the street where they could find a shelter, and began walking west. As they approached a cemetery, 5 men came toward them, one with a gun. They men forced them into the cemetery at gunpoint, and told them to take out all their belongings. The Honduran man pleaded to keep his phone so he could communicate with his family. In response, one of the assailants began beating him in the ribs and said he would beat him again if he said another word. The men detained them in the cemetery for an hour before finally letting them go.

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

Sector(s): Tucson

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Dangerous Deportation

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

Victim Classification: Honduras, Single Adult

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

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