15 Records of Alleged Abusive or Improper Conduct in April 2021

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

Late April, 2021

The Kino Border Initiative reported:

A young Mexican man expelled under Title 42 this week reported to KBI that Border Patrol agents left them in downtown Nogales, Sonora around 2:30AM. The group was afraid to walk through town at night, so they waited outside by the port of entry without any protection from organized crime groups, which are known to patrol this area, for 4 hours until the sun came up.

— “April 29 Update From KBI” (Nogales: Kino Border Initiative, April 29, 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: Mexico, Single Adult

Late April, 2021

The Kino Border Initiative reported:

This week a Honduran family of 3 was expelled to Nogales, Sonora at 8PM, when it was already dark. A Mexican police officer allowed them to come into their office and eat some food, and then advised that they walk to the shelter in the dark, which is about a two mile walk. As they walked, a police vehicle stopped them and offered them a ride, expressing their concern that a migrant family would walk through such a dangerous area at night.

— “April 29 Update From KBI” (Nogales: Kino Border Initiative, April 29, 2021).

Sector(s): Tucson

Agency(ies): CBP

Event Type(s): Dangerous Deportation

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

Victim Classification: Family Unit, Honduras

Late April, 2021

The Kino Border Initiative reported:

A Guatemalan father who had been expelled from the US four months ago was selling food in the street with his family one day when an armed man arrived and killed him in front of his wife and seven-year-old daughter. His wife and daughter fled their hometown to seek protection in the US and crossed between ports of entry to assert their asylum claim. The woman carried her husband’s death certificate and showed it to Border Patrol agents, who accused them of purchasing the document at a pharmacy and refused to hear their fear claim.

— “April 29 Update From KBI” (Nogales: Kino Border Initiative, April 29, 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: Family Unit, Guatemala

April 27, 2021

The Kino Border Initiative reported:

A Honduran traveling with his two small children was expelled Tuesday morning to Nogales, Sonora at 3AM. The family did not have the money to pay a taxi to transport them to the shelter, so they stayed in the Mexican police office until it was light enough for them to feel safe to walk to KBI.

— “April 29 Update From KBI” (Nogales: Kino Border Initiative, April 29, 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: Family Unit, Honduras

April 25, 2021

A report from the Kino Border Initiative (KBI) and NETWORK described the apprehension and expulsion into Mexico of a Guatemalan woman, who said she was fleeing “threats from an organized crime group that had also physically beat her,” and her two-year-old son.

They were apprehended by CBP in the desert and transported to a facility. They were processed but never asked why she came or if she feared going back. After that, she was transported to another facility in a crowded, hot, suffocating bus with other migrants. The migrants were finding it hard to breathe, but the bus was travelling at high speed and agents could not hear them knocking for help. After 30 minutes, they got the agents’ attention, and the agents turned on the air. Once they arrived at the next facility, they were held in a very cold room. Some of the women in the facility were called into an office to be interviewed privately. This woman was not. Agents never inquired why she had come to the United States. She didn’t realize she was being expelled until she was already travelling in CBP transport to the border. She and her son were expelled the same day to Mexico and given no information as to why they were being expelled.

KBI filed a May 1, 2021 complaint with the DHS Office on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL) and the CBP Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR). On May 6, 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): CBP

Event Type(s): Conditions in Custody, 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

April 24, 2021

Francisco Javier Vallejo, an off-duty Border Patrol agent, struck a bicyclist with his car and fled the scene. The cyclist, Humberto Torres Iracheta, 71, was found dead, face down in the roadway.

Vallejo eventually informed his CBP supervisors that he had hit a cyclist. The Rio Grande Valley Monitor reported, “It’s unclear, however, how long it took Vallejo to report the collision.” Vallejo was arrested, the Monitor continued, “and charged with accident involving death, a second-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison. Vallejo was released the following day on a $100,000 bond.”

— Valerie Gonzalez and Mark Reagan, “Border Patrol agent fled deadly collision with bicyclist; later reported the death” (Hidalgo: MyRGV News, April 26, 2021) https://myrgv.com/local-news/2021/04/26/border-patrol-agent-fled-deadly-collision-with-bicyclist-later-reported-the-death/.

Sector(s): Rio Grande Valley

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Unethical Off-Duty Behavior

Last Known Accountability Status: Under Judicial Review, Under OPR Investigation

Victim Classification: U.S. Citizen or Resident

April 17, 2021

A report from the Kino Border Initiative (KBI) and NETWORK discussed a Salvadoran asylum-seeking family’s violent Border Patrol apprehension and subsequent inability to seek asylum, before being expelled under Title 42.

A Salvadoran woman, her 10-year-old daughter, 1-year-old son, brother, cousin, and cousin’s daughter, entered the United States on April 17, 2021. They saw a Border Patrol truck arriving and waited for it to arrive so they could ask for asylum.

The Border Patrol agent who got out of the truck was enraged. He pulled a gun on the mother and family. He berated them, calling them “damned criminals,” “rats,” “terrorists,” and “criminals,” as they cried and asked for asylum. He spoke English and Spanish but spoke Spanish poorly, but the Salvadoran woman said she understood enough. He continued to pull his gun on them even though they were not posing any threat to his safety. They were unarmed and with children. She believed that he was going to kill them.

Then, another agent arrived and calmed the first agent down. Other agents and vehicles arrived to transport them. She told those agents that they were seeking asylum, but they said they didn’t speak Spanish.

Once they were transported to an open-air outpost, she asked the agents there for asylum and got the same answer. Then they were transported to a permanent building [the Nogales Border Patrol station] where they were inspected by a doctor. She told the doctor she wanted seek asylum and he just said good luck. At the facility, she told several more agents she wanted to seek asylum. Despite telling 7 or 8 different agents that they were hoping to seek asylum in the United States, they were repeatedly told that no one spoke Spanish and were never given a fear assessment. They were all expelled to Nogales, Sonora.

KBI filed a July 13, 2021 complaint with the DHS Office on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL) and the CBP Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR). The organization reported, “As of 8/17/2021, five weeks after the initial complaint was filed, KBI has received no response to this complaint.”

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 of Arrest or Apprehension, Denial of Protection to Most Vulnerable, Threat of Violence, Use of Force

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

Victim Classification: El Salvador, Family Unit

April 5, 2021

A report from the Kino Border Initiative (KBI) and NETWORK recounted the conditions of a Guatemalan man’s apprehension by Border Patrol in Arizona, which appeared to involve aggressive use of canines.

A Guatemalan man entered the United States in a group of three and was met by five Border Patrol agents. The agent had dogs and the man was afraid of dogs, so he ran and hid so that the dogs would not bite him. Then the agent forcefully grabbed him by the back of the neck and handcuffed him to other detained migrants. The agents were screaming in English, but the Guatemalan man did not understand English. The man complained that the handcuffs were too tight, but the agents did not respond. The agent’s dog ran between the three immigrants, causing one to fall first and take the others down with him. The Guatemalan man who made this complaint fell on his wrist and his handcuffs got tighter. He asked again that they loosen the handcuffs but there was no response. His right wrist was bruised for days after he was expelled.

KBI filed an April 7, 2021 complaint with the DHS Office on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL) and the CBP Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR). As of August 17, 2021, KBI had received no response.

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 of Arrest or Apprehension

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

Victim Classification: Guatemala, Single Adult

April 4, 2021

Three Black CBP officers stationed near the Canadian border in Michigan filed a lawsuit alleging that the agency “routinely targets and harasses” Black travelers. As reported by the Detroit Free Press, the suit pointed out that “nationwide, Black people account for less than 6% of the total CBP workforce of 21,185. More than 62% of employees are white; another 25% are Hispanic.” (The U.S. Census estimated that 13.8 percent of the U.S. population was “Black or African American alone” in 2021.)

— Tresa Baldas, “Customs and Border Protection officer says racism at Michigan-Canada border happens daily: ‘It needs to be exposed’” (Detroit: Detroit Free Press, April 4, 2021 https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2021/04/04/cbp-officers-lawsuit-racial-profiling-issue-us-canada-border/7076949002/.

Sector(s): Border-Wide

Agency(ies): CBP

Event Type(s): Racial Discrimination or Profiling

Last Known Accountability Status: Lawsuit or Claim Filed

Victim Classification: Black

April 4, 2021

A report from the Kino Border Initiative (KBI) and NETWORK described a Guatemalan woman’s account of being denied necessary surgery for a leg injury while in Border Patrol custody, then swiftly expelled to Mexico.

A Guatemalan woman entered the United States and was detained by Border Patrol and transferred to a border patrol facility. She had previously injured herself in the desert and could not walk well. When transported to the facility, a nurse told her she needed surgery to fix a broken bone and torn muscle. She was taken to a clinic where an X ray was taken and found that her tibia was shattered. The medical assistant then told the female border agent who was present that the woman needed an operation right away. The medical assistant told the woman that the surgery was absolutely necessary, and so she agreed to the operation. Then they transferred her to a hospital and changed the Border Patrol agent in of charge of her. It was now a male Border Patrol agent. He received all the paperwork. The woman did not receive any paperwork. The medical staff started prepping for the surgery, then all of a sudden they said they couldn’t do it. The medical staff then gave the woman a sedative and put a cast on. The nurse told her that wherever she goes next, that the women must have surgery. When she asked why they were not continuing with surgery, the medical staff apologized profusely and told her the agents were not going to allow the Guatemalan woman to stay in the U.S. long enough for an operation she desperately needed. Medical staff repeated that she must have surgery as soon as she can because her injuries were serious. The Border Patrol agent there then rushed the woman out of the hospital without allowing the woman to eat or change clothes or get any prescribed pain medication. Though she could barely walk, she was expelled to Nogales, Sonora without any crutches.

KBI filed an April 8, 2021 complaint with the DHS Office on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL) and the CBP Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR). On June 30, CRCL emailed “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): Denial of Medical Care

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

Victim Classification: Female, Guatemala, Medical Condition, Single Adult

April 3, 2021

A report from the Kino Border Initiative (KBI) and NETWORK described the apprehension and expulsion of a Guatemalan man who, after fleeing extortion and threats in his country, was kidnapped and tortured for two weeks during his journey through Mexico.

He managed to flee his kidnappers to continue to the U.S. In the U.S., he and two friends encountered one Border Patrol agent. The agent first handcuffed the other two to each other with chains. The agent then kicked the Guatemalan man who made this complaint in the left ankle, which caused him to collapse. The agent picked the man up by his shoulder and put him in the back of the truck. The agent expelled the man to Nogales, Sonora despite the injuries the agent had inflicted and the fact that he was kidnapped in Mexico. He was never given an opportunity to speak to anyone else about his fear of return.

KBI filed an April 13, 2021 complaint with the DHS Office on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL) and the CBP Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR). On April 30, 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): Conditions of Arrest or Apprehension, Dangerous Deportation, Denial of Protection to Most Vulnerable, Use of Force

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

Victim Classification: Guatemala, Kidnap Victim, Single Adult

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:

Another young Guatemalan migrant reported that before Border Patrol agents expelled him to Nogales, Sonora, they threw away all the water and supplies they had brought with them. The BP agents took the apples the group brought for food and fed them to their horses. When they asked for water since they had walked days in the desert, the BP agents refused until several hours later.

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

Sector(s): Tucson

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Denial of Food or Water, Non-Return of Belongings

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

Victim Classification: Guatemala, Single Adult

Early April, 2021

The Kino Border Initiative reported: “A young Guatemalan man expelled to Nogales, Sonora under Title 42 last week reported that Border Patrol agents threatened to run him over with their four wheeler. They also intimidated him and said things like, ‘Why are you even here?'”

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

Sector(s): Tucson

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Abusive Language, Threat of Violence

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

Victim Classification: 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