9 Records of Alleged Abusive or Improper Conduct in August 2023

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

August 17, 2023

On August 17, the Nogales-based Kino Border Initiative (KBI), recounted the case of a young migrant who was denied access to asylum and misled with false information. 

“This week, a young man, Jesus* [name changed to protect privacy] fleeing organized crime in Southern Mexico arrived at KBI after paying thousands of dollars to a coyote in an attempt to seek asylum. “The coyotes say you turn yourself into Border Patrol and you get asylum, but it’s not true,” he said. BP agents told him, “there is no asylum for Mexicans,” and told him he could either be deported or sign his voluntary return.”

Kino Border Initiative. 2022. “Congressional Year End Report 2023.” Https://Www.Kinoborderinitiative.Org/Annual-Report/. Kino Border Initiative. https://www.kinoborderinitiative.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/01/Congressional-Year-End-Report-2023_.pdf

Sector(s): Border Patrol

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Compelling Signature of English-Language Documents, Denial of Access to Asylum, Denial of Protection to Most Vulnerable, Lying or Deliberate Misleading

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: Mexico

August 17, 2023

On August 17, the Nogales-based Kino Border Initiative (KBI), recounted that a migrant family was separated by Border Patrol and required to sign a voluntary return document.

“Patricia*[name changed to protect privacy], her 18-year-old son, her daughter-in-law, and grandchildren are fleeing threats in Mexico. When BP encountered them, they separated Patricia [name changed to protect privacy] from her son, as well as from her daughter in law and grandchildren. The agents didn’t ask any questions; they said they had to sign their voluntary return if they would receive jail time as punishment. Patricia asked if they would return her at the same time as her son because he is only 18. The agents said they would, but soon, she saw her son lining up with other men. BP returned her son at 8 pm to Nogales and returned her until the following day.”

Kino Border Initiative. 2022. “Congressional Year End Report 2023.” Https://Www.Kinoborderinitiative.Org/Annual-Report/. Kino Border Initiative. https://www.kinoborderinitiative.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/01/Congressional-Year-End-Report-2023_.pdf

Sector(s): Border Patrol

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Compelling Signature of English-Language Documents, Family Separation

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: Mexico

August 17, 2023

 On August 17, the Nogales-based Kino Border Initiative (KBI), recounted that a DACA recipient was denied reentry into the U.S. by CBP, for unclear reasons, while also being separated from their sibling and having their diabetes medication confiscated.

“Fernando* [name changed to protect privacy] grew up in the US and was a DACA recipient. His mother in Mexico got very sick, and he applied and received advance parole to go to visit her. However, upon his return to the US, CBP denied his entry and he is unclear as to the reason. He began to work in Southern Mexico, where his sister lived, until organized crime took over the city. They demanded he pay a protection fee and told him he had 3 days to pay them 15,000 pesos ($875 USD). They fled to Central Mexico, but the same group located them there. They fled to the border, where BP agents apprehended them. The agents said if they signed their voluntary return, they would be able to stay together throughout the process. However, they returned Fernando alone and he hasn’t heard from his sister in 3 days. BP agents also threw away his diabetes medication.”

Kino Border Initiative. 2022. “Congressional Year End Report 2023.” Https://Www.Kinoborderinitiative.Org/Annual-Report/. Kino Border Initiative. https://www.kinoborderinitiative.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/01/Congressional-Year-End-Report-2023_.pdf

Sector(s): CBP

Agency(ies): CBP

Event Type(s): Conditions of Arrest or Apprehension

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: Mexico

August 17, 2023

On August 17, the Nogales-based Kino Border Initiative (KBI), recounted the following case.

“Over the past 2 weeks, KBI received multiple reports of Border Patrol pressuring or coercing Mexican nationals into signing their voluntary return after having asked for asylum, without a fear interview, and separating family members, including a mother from her 18-year-old son.”

Kino Border Initiative. 2022. “Congressional Year End Report 2023.” Https://Www.Kinoborderinitiative.Org/Annual-Report/. Kino Border Initiative. https://www.kinoborderinitiative.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/01/Congressional-Year-End-Report-2023_.pdf

Sector(s): Border Patrol

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Compelling Signature of English-Language Documents, Denial of Access to Asylum, Denial of Protection to Most Vulnerable, Inappropriate Deportation

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: Mexico

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 3, 2023

On August 3, the Nogales-based Kino Border Initiative (KBI), reported the case of a migrant family from Southern Mexico that fled to the U.S. border to seek asylum. Border Patrol mistreated the family, denied them asylum, and expelled them back to Mexico.

“Leonora*[name changed to protect privacy]  and her 3 kids fled Southern Mexico to save her daughter from sexual violence. They turned themselves into Border Patrol and after Leonora [name changed to protect privacy]  tried to explain why they were fleeing, the BP agent responded, “you’re in charge of defending your own kids; you can’t just come to the US.” The agents made fun of her and laughed at her and made her sign a document- they said if she didn’t sign it, she would be a criminal and would be subject to consequences for 10 years. They were detained for 3 nights, after which BP expelled them at 10 pm despite local repatriation agreements that require that these repatriations occur before 6:30 pm.”

Kino Border Initiative. 2022. “Congressional Year End Report 2023.” Https://Www.Kinoborderinitiative.Org/Annual-Report/. Kino Border Initiative. https://www.kinoborderinitiative.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/01/Congressional-Year-End-Report-2023_.pdf.

Sector(s): Border Patrol

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Abusive Language, Conditions in Custody, Conditions of Arrest or Apprehension, Denial of Protection to Most Vulnerable, Endangerment, Falsification or Negligent Handling of Asylum Paperwork

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: Accompanied Child, Family Unit, Mexico

August 3,2023

Reporting on August 3, 2023, the Nogales-based Kino Border Initiative (KBI), recounted the case of a family seeking asylum, fleeing from Mexico. The mother of the family attempted to explain why she and her family needed to enter the U.S. but were not given the opportunity by Border Patrol. Border Patrol made her sign a voluntary removal form, stating that her refusal would result in five years of punishment and deportation to Mexico.

One agent said his supervisor “didn’t authorize asylum for them; that people from the state of Guanajuato aren’t eligible for asylum.”

Kino Border Initiative. 2022. “Congressional Year End Report 2023.” Https://Www.Kinoborderinitiative.Org/Annual-Report/. Kino Border Initiative. https://www.kinoborderinitiative.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/01/Congressional-Year-End-Report-2023_.pdf.

Sector(s): Border Patrol, CBP

Agency(ies): Border Patrol, CBP

Event Type(s): Compelling Signature of English-Language Documents, Denial of Access to Asylum, Denial of Protection to Most Vulnerable, Inappropriate Deportation, Lying or Deliberate Misleading, Return of Vulnerable Individuals

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: Mexico

August 3, 2023

Reporting on August 3, 2023, the Nogales-based Kino Border Initiative (KBI), recounted receiving consistent reports of Mexican asylum seekers being removed or returned without undergoing fear interviews. Among those affected are two Mexican families who were belittled, made fun of, and returned to Mexico without being asked their reasons for requesting asylum. 

Kino Border Initiative. 2022. “Congressional Year End Report 2023.” Https://Www.Kinoborderinitiative.Org/Annual-Report/. Kino Border Initiative. https://www.kinoborderinitiative.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/01/Congressional-Year-End-Report-2023_.pdf.

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

Agency(ies): Border Patrol, CBP

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

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: Mexico

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