3 Records of Alleged Abusive or Improper Conduct in November 2023

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

August 8th, 2023

On August 8th, 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, the U.S 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, up to 1,000 migrants walked to the U.S Side of the Puente Negro (Black Bridge) and started shaking the border wall.

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 returned to Mexican soil. One video of the incident illustrates the pepper balls mostly striking the fence. 
After this incident, the Border Network for Human Rights (BNHR) released a statement condemning the “disproportionate use of force against civilians, children, and migrant families”. BNHR also demanded the “Biden Administration and Congress to bring accountability and oversight to federal immigration agencies at the southern border”. With many children and families injured as a result of the confusion, migrant advocates like BNHR will be asking the Department of Justice to review the incident.

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): Border Patrol

Agency(ies): Border Patrol, CBP

Event Type(s): Crowd Control, Endangerment

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: Accompanied Child, Family Unit

September 15, 2023

In November of 2022, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) from the Department of Homeland Security conducted unannounced inspections of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) facilities. They inspected two facilities of the El Paso sector and one Office of Field Operations port of entry. On September 15th of 2023, OIG published a 40 page report of their findings. 

At the time of the inspection, Border Patrol’s facilities had 1,903 detainees in custody at the El Paso processing center (M-CPC) and the inspectors interviewed a random sample of 10 percent of these detainees. The inspection broadly revealed that the Border Patrol facilities met TEDS standards to provide basic amenities including drinking water, meals, access to toilets, hygienic supplies, and bedding. 

The report, however, indicates a series of concerns regarding CBP’s compliance with detention time requirements, as well as providing regularly scheduled meals and showers. During their inspection, they found that of the 190 detainees sampled, 91 were held in custody longer than the specified time included in National Standards on Transport, Escort, Detention, and Search (TEDS), which limits custody detention to 72 hours. TEDS standards also require facilities to provide showers to juveniles approaching 48 hours and adults approaching 72 hours in CBP custody. While detainees were provided with showers during intake, they were not provided with showers every 48 or 72 thereafter. Detainees were also not given hygienic materials like toothpaste and toothbrushes during their intake. According to a CBP official, the facility faced limited shower capacity, insufficient staffing, and overcrowding that prevented officers from providing these required showers and supplies. 

The M-CPC had eight different detention pods to place detainees. In each pod, there was overcrowding. For pods 3,5, and 6, capacity reached over 200%, with the pods holding 205%, 203%, and 273% capacity, respectively. 

The inspection also revealed data integrity issues in Border Patrol’s electronic records system, e3. During an inspection of a sample of twenty custody logs, OIG found gaps in entries of when meals, blankets, and hygiene items were provided. When attempting to locate a detainee for interviews, CBP officials were unable to locate the person due to e3 discrepancies.
After the inspection, OIG left the facilities with five recommendations to fix these issues, including developing strategies to facilitate detainee transfers, upgrading staff availability, ensuring compliance with TED standards, establishing regularly scheduled mealtimes, and overseeing a review of the e3 system to monitor data integrity. In their February follow-up, CBP inspected the facility once again, and considered all of their final recommendations resolved.

“Results of Unannounced Inspections of CBP Holding Facilities in the El Paso Area.” Washington: DHS Office of Inspector-General, September 15, 2023. https://www.oig.dhs.gov/sites/default/files/assets/2023-09/OIG-23-50-Sep23.pdf.

Sector(s): Border Patrol, CBP, El Paso, El Paso Field Office

Agency(ies): Border Patrol, CBP

Event Type(s): Conditions in Custody, Denial of Food or Water

Last Known Accountability Status: Cleared by DHS OIG

Victim Classification: Family Unit

Mid-September, 2023

As NBC News, the Hill, and CBS news have reported in September, migrant children were forced to be separated from their parents while in CBP custody. A pediatrician associated with Stanford University, Dr, Paul Wise, interviewed families from the facility in Donna,Texas this August and found that many children, some as young as 8 years old, were separated from their parents for up to 4 days. 

The Flores Settlement Agreement of 1993 previously ruled that “minors may not be held in immigration detention for more than 72 hours in most cases”. Exceptions to this rule are largely due to medical circumstances. Reports have shown, however, that minors traveling as part of family units are often detained alone more often and for longer periods of times than unaccompanied minors.There were 737 minors who traveled as part of family units in July. Of these minors, 697 were held between three to five days, 39 were held for longer than 5 days, and there were 15 minors who were held for more than 14 days. 

While it was reported that Border Patrol was providing basic necessities to the children in custody, some children were receiving adult meals and some families were not being provided sleeping mats while they were in custody. 

These violations, CBP stated in their official report about the investigation, are rising from overcrowding in CBP “pods”, or groups in which children are placed. When pods are overcrowded, CBP makes an assessment of a child’s age and gender and places them in a pod of children with similar backgrounds.  

In his 71-page report, Dr. Wise noted these separations could affect the children’s mental health. After interviewing some of the children, he wrote there was “significant emotional distress related to separation, including sustained crying and disorientation”. This largely arose from their inability to communicate with their parents. In many cases, he notes, both the children and their detention caretakers in the facility were unaware of their visitation rights, which grants families the right to request to see each other while in custody. 

While these separations have not been permanent, Dr. Wise’s report reveals that even temporary separations have caused emotional distress for these families.

Montoya-Galvez, Camilo. “U.S. Border Agents Are Separating Migrant Children from Their Parents to Avoid Overcrowding, Inspector Finds – CBS News.” CBS News, September 16, 2023. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/migrant-children-separated-parents-u-s-border-agents-overcrowding/.
Bernal, Rafael. “Children Separated at US-Mexico Border Had ‘No Interaction’ with Their Parents: Report.” Text. The Hill, September 18, 2023. https://thehill.com/latino/4210694-children-separated-at-us-mexico-border-had-no-interaction-with-their-parents-report/.
Ainsley, Julia. “Border Patrol Temporarily Separated Families This Summer, Court Filing Says.” NBC News, September 18, 2023. https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/border-patrol-temporarily-separated-families-summer-court-filing-says-rcna105524.

Sector(s): Border Patrol, CBP, El Paso, Rio Grande Valley

Agency(ies): Border Patrol, CBP

Event Type(s): Conditions in Custody, Family Separation

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: Accompanied Child, Family Unit