254 Records of Alleged Abusive or Improper Conduct where the last known accountability status is “Unknown”

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

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

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

July, 2023

Among cases cited in a July 2023 Human Rights First report was that of a Haitian asylum-seeking man to whom CBP officers denied access to emergency medical care, while harassing the humanitarian worker accompanying him.

Even during the Title 42 period, it was customary to be granted access to the Reynosa port of entry for medical emergencies requiring an ambulance. The humanitarian worker, however, was told by CBP officers at the limit line, “This isn’t our problem. If you want, you can bring him to wait in line.” At this time, other vulnerable individuals waiting to access the port of entry without an appointment were being forced to wait for over 72 hours in extreme heat. “If I bring him to wait in this line without medical care, he will die,” the humanitarian worker told CBP officers.

After advocacy by another local humanitarian worker, the ambulance transporting the critical case was approved to cross. Yet upon arrival at the port with the ambulance, the humanitarian worker and the Haitian man were harassed by CBP: “It’s you again?” the CBP officer greeted the humanitarian worker who tried to explain the situation but was silenced. A CBP nurse said, “You call this an emergency?” and removed the Haitian man’s oxygen tubes and ordered him to stand up, lowering him from the bed and off the ambulance. A CBP supervisor refused to provide the Haitian man with a wheelchair and instead forced him to walk and to carry his luggage, prohibiting the humanitarian worker from carrying it for him. The CBP supervisor accepted the man for processing and ordered the local humanitarian worker to leave, threatening her and saying she was prohibited from return:

“You’re already in trouble, so if you don’t want to have more problems, leave. You are no longer allowed in this area.”

— Asencio, Christina, Eleanor Acer, and Rebecca Gendelman. “Refugee Protection Travesty.” New York: Human Rights First, July 12, 2023. https://humanrightsfirst.org/library/refugee-protection-travesty/.

Sector(s): Laredo Field Office

Agency(ies): Office of Field Operations

Event Type(s): Abusive Language, Denial of Medical Care, Denial of Protection to Most Vulnerable, Intimidation of Humanitarian Workers

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: Advocate or Humanitarian Worker, Haiti, Medical Condition, Single Adult

Late June, 2023

Reporting on June 22, 2023, the Nogales-based Kino Border Initiative (KBI), which maintains a migrant shelter in Nogales, Sonora, stated, “Over the past month, KBI has documented 7 cases of detention of asylum seekers who presented at the Nogales Port of Entry without a CBP One appointment, resulting in separation from their siblings, partners, and parents.”

Among cases cited:

– Upon presenting at the POE, CBP detained Magdalena [name changed to protect privacy] separating her from her aunt and cousins. They fled Michoacan after they could no longer afford to pay the weekly quota that organized crime demanded from the laundry business the family owned.

– CBP detained Federico [name changed to protect privacy] separating him from his sister and her husband, who he was traveling with. Federico and his family are fleeing violence in Guerrero, where he survived an attack that resulted in the loss of his leg.

— “June 22 update from KBI” (Nogales: Kino Border Initiative, June 22, 2023).

Sector(s): Tucson Field Office

Agency(ies): Office of Field Operations

Event Type(s): Denial of Protection to Most Vulnerable, Family Separation

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: Disability, Family Unit

June 23, 2023

A report by the International Rescue Committee, produced in coordination with six U.S., Mexican, and international NGOs, noted that:

Refugee Health Alliance, an NGO that provides health services to migrants in Mexico, reported that CBP officers rejected requests for humanitarian parole of individuals in Tijuana for whom its staff had provided letters to document their urgent medical needs.

— “Limits on Access to Asylum After Title 42: One Month of Monitoring U.S.-Mexico Border Ports of Entry.” United States: International Rescue Committee, June 23, 2023. https://www.rescue.org/report/limits-access-asylum-after-title-42-one-month-monitoring-us-mexico-border-ports-entry.

Sector(s): San Diego Field Office

Agency(ies): Office of Field Operations

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

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification:

June 20, 2023

“As the Biden administration prepared to launch speedy asylum screenings at Border Patrol holding facilities this spring, authorities pledged a key difference from a Trump-era version of the policy: Migrants would be guaranteed access to legal counsel,” the Associated Press reported on July 2, 2023. A May 1 fact sheet from DHS had explained, “CBP and ICE have expanded holding capacity and set up equipment and procedures so that individuals have the ability to access counsel” (original link).

A report from the National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC) found otherwise. As of June 20, NIJC had carried out telephonic legal consultations with 23 asylum seekers compelled to defend their cases in rapid, telephonic credible fear interviews (CFIs) with asylum officers while in CBP custody, shortly after being apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border. The organization found that “CBP and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) continue to routinely and severely obstruct access to counsel for people attempting to seek asylum in CBP custody.”

All consultations with clients must happen over the telephone, as “CBP continues to deny attorneys physical access to CBP facilities,” NIJC noted, adding that this makes it impossible to return calls.

Even getting an agreement to represent an asylum seeker before their CFI has been made very difficult: USCIS requires migrants to physically (not electronically) sign a document agreeing to be represented. CBP, however, often fails to deliver those documents to asylum seekers in the agency’s custody, NIJC found:

CBP regularly fails to even respond to emails from NIJC attorneys requesting that they facilitate a client’s signature.

In four cases, CBP failed to respond to multiple emails from NIJC attorneys requesting assistance with obtaining their client’s signatures on a notice of appearance. In three of these cases, USCIS proceeded to conduct the clients’ CFIs without counsel present. In the fourth case, USCIS convinced NIJC’s client to return to Mexico on a voluntary return order, a decision with significant legal consequences.

In another case, “a CBP officer [probably a Border Patrol agent] pointed a person seeking asylum to the phone booths [in the holding facility] and told him that he could call either his family or an attorney — not both. The client called his family.”

Despite assurances that it would provide asylum seekers with pens and paper to take notes during their telephonic conversations with counsel, “in most cases CBP still refuses to allow people access to pen and paper during their consultations,” NIJC reported.

Of the 23 people for whom NIJC has conducted consultations, only six people had access to a pen and paper (half of whom received them only upon NIJC’s request). In one case, a CBP officer told an NIJC attorney that these basic supplies were in “short supply.” Pens and paper are critical to help people remember their attorney’s name and phone number in addition to complex legal information.

— U.S. Department of Homeland Security. “Fact Sheet: Update on DHS Planning for Southwest Border Security Measures as the Title 42 Public Health Order Ends,” May 1, 2023. https://www.dhs.gov/news/2023/05/01/fact-sheet-update-dhs-planning-southwest-border-security-measures-title-42-public.

— Spagat, Elliot. “The Biden Administration Guaranteed Attorney Access for All Migrant Screenings. Most Don’t Have It.” Associated Press, July 2, 2023. https://apnews.com/article/border-asylum-screenings-credible-fear-biden-c0cb41b512609b3894ebcfaa3ed3bb4c.

— National Immigrant Justice Center. “Obstructed Legal Access: June 2023 Update,” June 20, 2023. https://immigrantjustice.org/staff/blog/obstructed-legal-access-june-2023-update.

Sector(s): Border-Wide

Agency(ies): CBP

Event Type(s): Denial of Access to Asylum, Denial of Access to Counsel

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification:

June 20, 2023

“One person I represented had been held in CBP custody for two weeks before she spoke with an asylum officer,” said National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC) Supervising Attorney Lee VanderLinden, in an NIJC report about CBP blocking access to counsel for asylum seekers in the agency’s custody. “During that time, she was denied medical attention despite asking for treatment for her anxiety. She has since been deported, but the government has not told me or her mother to where she was deported.”

— National Immigrant Justice Center. “Obstructed Legal Access: June 2023 Update,” June 20, 2023. https://immigrantjustice.org/staff/blog/obstructed-legal-access-june-2023-update.

Sector(s): Border-Wide

Agency(ies): CBP

Event Type(s): Conditions in Custody, Denial of Access to Asylum, Denial of Access to Counsel, Denial of Medical Care

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: Female

June 20, 2023

As the National Immigrant Justice Center and the New York Times reported, asylum seekers placed in “expedited removal” are forced to defend their claims while in CBP’s jail-like holding facilities within days of apprehension, resulting in elevated rates of failing the “credible fear” screening interview that determines asylum eligibility (70 percent failure in June 2023, compared to 26 percent in June 2019). A denial can result in immediate deportation.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) promised that people in CBP custody would have access to counsel for the interview, though this rarely happens, and that people would not be held for longer than 72 hours, yet numerous reports indicate people being held for 10 days and some for up to 30 days. Various groups have voiced concerns about the expedited removal process and the severe obstructions to access to counsel for people attempting to seek asylum including limiting access to phones for legal consultations, failing to notify attorneys of their clients’ scheduled screenings and immigration court reviews, denying asylum seekers in CBP custody access to pen and paper, and requiring that people physically sign a notice of entry of appearance to secure the attorney/client relationship, while often failing to facilitate the required signature. The Times observed:

Lawyers cannot meet with clients who are in the custody of Border Patrol. Or call them. Or leave messages for them. There is no system to find out where a client is being held. And the government sets the schedules for key meetings when a lawyer should be present and changes dates and times often without notification.


The failure to notify counsel of credible fear interviews has occurred within the context of persistent communication from attorneys requesting notification. Among cases cited:

An NIJC (National Immigrant Justice Center) attorney seeking to represent two asylum seekers in CBP custody emailed her notices of appearance and requested to attend her clients’ CFIs on three separate occasions over the span of five days. She received no acknowledgement or response. Only upon notifying officials at Department of Homeland Security (DHS) headquarters of these cases was she informed that both of her clients had already been interviewed without counsel present.


The NIJC described the re-traumatizing and destabilizing nature of a truncated screening process, notably for individuals with specific vulnerabilities. Their clients have included youth, LGBTQIA+ individuals, and survivors of sexual violence—each forced to recount their past trauma to an asylum officer within 24 hours of arriving in the United States, all while sitting alone in a phone booth in a carceral setting. Lee VanderLinden, NIJC supervising attorney described the process for one of their clients:

One person I represented had been held in CBP custody for two weeks before she spoke with an asylum officer. During that time, she was denied medical attention despite asking for treatment for her anxiety. She has since been deported, but the government has not told me or her mother to where she was deported.

— National Immigrant Justice Center. “Obstructed Legal Access: June 2023 Update,” June 20, 2023. https://immigrantjustice.org/staff/blog/obstructed-legal-access-june-2023-update.
—Sullivan, Eileen. “Lawyers Say Helping Asylum Seekers in Border Custody Is Nearly Impossible.” The New York Times, July 22, 2023, sec. U.S. https://www.nytimes.com/2023/07/22/us/politics/biden-asylum-policies-border.html.

Sector(s): Border-Wide

Agency(ies): CBP, DHS

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

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: LGBTQ, Sexual Abuse Victim, Single Adult, Teen

June, 2023

A July 12, 2023 Human Rights First report found that asylum seekers forced to undergo credible fear interviews by telephone from CBP custody, under the Biden administration’s new asylum rule, “face abysmal conditions — including inadequate access to food, hygiene, or medical care — which may lead some to abandon their claims for protection.”

The report related the case of a Venezuelan asylum seeker fleeing government persecution who “accepted voluntary return to Mexico in June 2023 while suffering horrendous medical neglect in CBP custody.”

His asthma was exacerbated by the extreme cold in the CBP jail and he had recently been ill with pneumonia, but he was denied access to an inhaler or other medical care by CBP officers who told him they didn’t care or to “shut up” when he begged for medical attention. Though he feared harm in Mexico because he witnessed Mexican police targeting other Venezuelan migrants due to their nationality, he felt compelled to accept voluntary return to Mexico because of the conditions in CBP detention, according to his attorney at NIJC [National Immigrant Justice Center].

— Asencio, Christina, Eleanor Acer, and Rebecca Gendelman. “Refugee Protection Travesty.” New York: Human Rights First, July 12, 2023. https://humanrightsfirst.org/library/refugee-protection-travesty/.

Sector(s): Border-Wide

Agency(ies): CBP

Event Type(s): Abusive Language, Conditions in Custody, Denial of Medical Care

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: Medical Condition, Single Adult, Venezuela

May 25, 2023

“An NIJC attorney was only able to appear with a client in one of the three immigration judge review hearings,” read a National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC) report about CBP blocking access to counsel for asylum seekers in the agency’s custody. “In this case, the NIJC attorney only knew the review was happening because his client’s wife informed him. CBP refused the attorney’s requests to speak to his client to prepare for the immigration judge review.”

— National Immigrant Justice Center. “Obstructed Legal Access: NIJC’s Findings From 3 Weeks of Telephonic Legal Consultations in CBP Custody,” May 25, 2023. https://immigrantjustice.org/staff/blog/obstructed-legal-access-nijcs-findings-3-weeks-telephonic-legal-consultations-cbp.

Sector(s): Border-Wide

Agency(ies): CBP

Event Type(s): Denial of Access to Asylum, Denial of Access to Counsel

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: Single Adult

Mid-May 2023

According to a report by the International Rescue Committee, produced in coordination with six U.S., Mexican, and international NGOs, “in the initial days of monitoring after the Title 42 policy ended, CBP officers at Otay Mesa and Paso del Norte were observed directly turning away asylum seekers without CBP One appointments, telling them they would not be processed.”

The report added, “A CBP officer on the Paso del Norte bridge told a group of asylum seekers without CBP One appointments that asylum without a prearranged appointment ‘doesn’t exist anymore.’”

— “Limits on Access to Asylum After Title 42: One Month of Monitoring U.S.-Mexico Border Ports of Entry.” United States: International Rescue Committee, June 23, 2023. https://www.rescue.org/report/limits-access-asylum-after-title-42-one-month-monitoring-us-mexico-border-ports-entry.

Sector(s): El Paso Field Office, San Diego Field Office

Agency(ies): Office of Field Operations

Event Type(s): Denial of Access to Asylum

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification:

Mid-May, 2023

Reporting on May 25, 2023, the Nogales-based Kino Border Initiative (KBI), which maintains a migrant shelter in Nogales, Sonora, stated, “Organized crime and authorities in Mexico and the U.S. strip asylum seekers of their resources on the journey, exacerbating their suffering.”

Among cases cited:

– Admiel [name changed to protect privacy] faced extortion many times after fleeing Venezuela. In Guatemala, the police demanded 600 quetzales ($77 USD). In Mexico City, Mexican immigration agents took 3,200 pesos ($179 USD). After he had turned himself in to US authorities a few weeks ago, Border Patrol took all his clothing and personal hygiene items. 

– After Leonardo [name changed to protect privacy] tried to enter the US, Border Patrol apprehended him and did not return his belongings. In addition to his clothing and cellphone, they took 7,300 pesos ($408 US).

— “May 25 update from KBI” (Nogales: Kino Border Initiative, May 25, 2023).

Sector(s): Tucson

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Non-Return of Belongings

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: Single Adult, Venezuela

May 13, 2023

Shortly after the termination of the Title 42 policy and implementation of the Biden administration’s new asylum rule, non-governmental observers on the Paso del Norte Bridge between Ciudad Juárez and El Paso recorded “that individuals without CBP One appointments were not being processed and witnessed CBP tell individuals that asylum without a prearranged appointment ‘doesn’t exist anymore.’”

— “Limits on Access to Asylum After Title 42: One Month of Monitoring U.S.-Mexico Border Ports of Entry.” United States: International Rescue Committee, June 23, 2023. https://www.rescue.org/report/limits-access-asylum-after-title-42-one-month-monitoring-us-mexico-border-ports-entry.

Sector(s): El Paso Field Office

Agency(ies): Office of Field Operations

Event Type(s): Denial of Access to Asylum

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification:

Early May, 2023

A June 9 Human Rights First report shared Venezuelan women’s accounts of being “separated by Border Patrol from their respective family groups and/or others they were traveling with after crossing into the United States near Matamoros, Tamaulipas, Mexico during the final days of Title 42.”

A woman seeking asylum from Venezuela, Xóchitl [name changed for privacy], was separated by Border Patrol from her husband, subsequently expelled under Title 42 alone 1200 miles away to Nogales, and struggles to seek asylum in wake of Biden asylum ban:

“[Border Patrol] asked if there were any married couples. We told them we were married and had our legal marriage certificate. We were then separated. I spent four very cold nights in a soft-sided tent without any information on my husband. I was then handcuffed at the wrists, ankles, waist and transported by plane with 200 other women, still not told what was happening or where my husband was. I was then returned through Nogales, Mexico alone with these other women. Only once in Nogales did I hear from my husband. He had been returned back to Matamoros.

It was horrible. The [Border Patrol] officers mocked us. There were many women crying and they [the officers] would laugh. When they boarded us on the plane, we weren’t even told where we were going. They crossed us back to Nogales without giving us any information, not even the name or location of a shelter.”

“Xóchitl’s” husband was later processed for asylum in Brownsville, Texas and paroled into the United States. As of the Human Rights First report’s publication, “Xóchitl, meanwhile remains alone in Nogales. She was waiting in line outside the port for over two weeks.”

— Asencio, Christina. “A Line That Barely Budges.” Human Rights First, June 9, 2023. https://humanrightsfirst.org/library/a-line-that-barely-budges-u-s-limiting-access-to-asylum/.

Sector(s): Rio Grande Valley, Tucson

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Family Separation

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: Married Adults, Venezuela

Early May, 2023

Reporting on May 11, 2023, the Nogales-based Kino Border Initiative (KBI), recounted a case of cruel treatment in custody and deliberately misleading conduct involving an asylum seeker.

Henry [name changed to protect privacy] turned himself in to the Border Patrol, where agents told him he would go to an interview to explain his case to a US official. However, that never happened and on the day of his expulsion, CBP agents handcuffed him at the hands, waist, and feet. The handcuffs were too tight and multiple people asked for them to be loosened, but the agents ignored him. “I never in my life have been treated like that: I never thought I’d be treated like a criminal upon arriving in the US,” Henry said. He arrived at KBI the day after his expulsion and still had indentations on his wrists from the handcuffs.

— “May 11 update from KBI” (Nogales: Kino Border Initiative, May 11, 2023).

Sector(s): Tucson

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Conditions in Custody, Lying or Deliberate Misleading

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: Single Adult

Early May, 2023

Reporting on May 11, 2023, the Nogales-based Kino Border Initiative (KBI) recounted a case of family separation in Border Patrol custody.

Esme [name changed to protect privacy] fled southern Mexico with her sister and nephew. Esme’s sister has a disability that impedes her communication and comprehension. When they turned themselves into Border Patrol, the agents separated Esme from her sister and nephew, despite the legal document she had naming her as her sister’s legal guardian. CBP immediately expelled Esme while her sister and nephew remained detained. However, Esme’s sister did not have the contact information of her brother who would receive them in the US. Agents said if they couldn’t find family members in the US, they would remove her son to process him as an unaccompanied minor. Upon hearing they would be separated, her 9 year old son started crying and they asked to be expelled back to Mexico to remain together.

— “May 11 update from KBI” (Nogales: Kino Border Initiative, May 11, 2023).

Sector(s): Tucson

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Denial of Protection to Most Vulnerable, Family Separation

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: Disability, Family Unit, Mexico

Early May, 2023

Reporting on May 11, 2023, the Nogales-based Kino Border Initiative (KBI), stated “CBP consistently perpetuates abuses, including throwing away migrants’ religious items and personal belongings and separating families.”

Among cases cited:

Armando [name changed to protect privacy] turned himself into the Border Patrol, where agents took his shoes, wallet with $55 USD and 200 Mexican pesos and his Bible. An agent threw away the Bible that had sustained him in his journey from Venezuela in the trash can in front of him.

— “May 11 update from KBI” (Nogales: Kino Border Initiative, May 11, 2023).

Sector(s): Tucson

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Confiscation of Documents, Non-Return of Belongings, Religious Freedom Violation

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: Single Adult, Venezuela

Late April, 2023

Reporting on April 27, 2023, the Nogales-based Kino Border Initiative (KBI) stated that, “Multiple expelled asylum seekers detained near El Paso and expelled to Nogales reported that BP confiscated original identification documents and essential medication.”

Among cases cited:

– BP officers threw away Ramon’s [name changed to protect privacy] belongings, including his diabetes medication. 

– BP agents verbally abused Jaime [name changed to protect privacy], saying that Venezuelans have no right to be in the US and that the problems in Venezuela are not their problem. A BP agent confiscated his cellphone, earbuds, money, and Venezuelan ID. He took the ID and cut it in half with scissors in front of Jaime.

– BP agents confiscated all of Paulina’s [name changed to protect privacy] personal property. When BP was transporting them to Nogales for expulsion, they began calling names to return property. They never called Paulina’s name and she told them she needed her Venezuelan ID back. The agents separated her and 3 others who were asking for their IDs back and threatened them, saying “you’re going to jail for making false accusations against an agent.” The agent continued: “I’m going to strip search and send you to jail.” They transported Paulina and the 3 others back to Tucson, where luckily, BP still had their IDs.

“April 27 update from KBI” (Nogales: Kino Border Initiative, April 27, 2023).

Sector(s): El Paso, Tucson

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Abusive Language, Confiscation of Documents, Non-Return of Belongings

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: Single Adult

Late April, 2023

Reporting on April 27, 2023, the Nogales-based Kino Border Initiative (KBI), which maintains a migrant shelter in Nogales, Sonora, stated, “Similar to reports Kino documented from people who were laterally expelled to Nogales, MX in 2021, expelled asylum seekers reported many common abuses, such as Border Patrol agents throwing away all their clothing, handcuffing them at the feet, waist and hands for hours at a time, denying basic hygiene items and access to showers for up to a week, and misleading them to believe they were going to see an immigration judge, only to be expelled through another part of the border.”

Among cases cited:

– Briseida [name changed to protect privacy] turned herself in to BP. She was detained for 5 days. She asked to be able to shower because she was menstruating, but the BP agent did not allow her to shower. She also requested sanitary pads, which they never provided to her.

– After turning himself in to BP, Jair [name changed to protect privacy] was detained for 10 days. He was only allowed to shower 1 time and he was never allowed to brush his teeth.

– Olivia [name changed to protect privacy] was detained for 5 days, during which she was allowed to shower only 1 time. She only had the clothes she was wearing when she arrived, as they took away all her other clothing. They confiscated the underwear she was wearing and gave her a pair of underwear that was too small. She had to rip them to be able to wear them. She was never allowed to make a phone call while she was detained, not even to let her family members know she was alive. BP put her on a plane and she could not eat or drink anything on the plane because she was chained at the hands, waist and feet the entire time.

— “April 27 update from KBI” (Nogales: Kino Border Initiative, April 27, 2023).

Sector(s): Tucson

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Conditions in Custody, Disregard of Public Health, Gender-Based Harm or Violence

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: Female, Single Adult

Late April, 2023

Reporting on April 27, 2023, the Nogales-based Kino Border Initiative (KBI) stated:

“After false reports circulated on social media and Breitbart News that the US government was no longer expelling Venezuelan nationals to Mexico under Title 42, approximately 1500 asylum seekers turned themselves in to Border Patrol in El Paso, TX to seek protection in the US. Over the past 2 weeks, KBI received 170 Venezuelan nationals flown from El Paso, many of whom were separated from their family members in the process. KBI is aware of 7 couples that were able to reunite in our center. In at least 4 cases, asylum seekers expelled to Nogales had to wait for 7 days to hear from their significant others, who were expelled in places such as Matamoros, Tijuana, and Mexicali.”

Among cases cited:

– Johnny [name changed to protect privacy] left the Venezuelan military after serving for 10 years. He commented on years of having to repress people’s rights: “I had to silence my people’s protests, but I could no longer silence my conscience.” He fled to Peru, where Venezuelan military officers came to search for him, and then to Chile, where they pursued him again. Johnny, his brother and his nephew turned themselves in to Border Patrol in El Paso. The agents refused to listen to Johnny’s asylum case and expelled him, while they processed his brother and nephew into the US.

– Upon turning himself in to Border Patrol, Emanuel [name changed to protect privacy] and his wife were separated. CBP expelled Emanuel in Tijuana and his wife in Nogales. Nearly 500 miles away from his wife and without any money to pay for the $2,800 MX ($154 USD) journey to Nogales, Emanuel rode on top of a cargo train to reunite with his wife. While on the train, he witnessed the kidnapping of another man by a prominent cartel.

– Paulina [name changed to protect privacy] turned herself in to Border Patrol along with her aunt, uncle and cousins. CBP separated Paulina and her aunt from the rest of their family and expelled the 2 of them to Nogales. Paulina’s cousin suffers from a chronic illness and upon turning themselves in, CBP transported him to a hospital in El Paso, Texas. They heard from him because he was allowed to keep his phone while in the hospital, but they are very worried for his health because he was diagnosed with pneumonia and they are going to put him on dialysis. They still do not know where her uncle is.

— “April 27 update from KBI” (Nogales: Kino Border Initiative, April 27, 2023).

Sector(s): El Paso, Tucson

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Denial of Access to Asylum, Family Separation

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: Family Unit, Single Adult, Venezuela

Mid-April 2023

Reporting on April 27th, 2023, the Nogales-based Kino Border Initiative (KBI) stated, “Over the past 2 weeks, KBI received reports that BP expelled 21 asylum seekers at night, at 8 pm or later, including as late as 2 am. Thirteen people reported they had to sleep outside on the street because they were deported too late to find a shelter.”

Among cases cited:

– BP expelled Yadir [name changed to protect privacy] to Nogales at 9 pm along with about 40 others. They all had to sleep outside in the plaza.

– BP expelled Osman [name changed to protect privacy] to Nogales at 9:30 pm. He had to sleep on the street and he was very cold because BP had thrown away all of his clothing, leaving him with only what he had on his back.

– BP expelled German [name changed to protect privacy] to Nogales at 9 pm. Mexican Immigration agents told him he could sleep on the sidewalk outside the Mexican immigration office.

— “April 27 update from KBI” (Nogales: Kino Border Initiative, April 27, 2023).

Sector(s): Tucson

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Dangerous Deportation

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: Single Adult

Mid-March, 2023

Reporting on March 16, 2023, the Nogales-based Kino Border Initiative (KBI) recounted a case of expulsion of vulnerable asylum seekers with CBP One appointments without a chance to talk to an asylum officer, and confiscation of documentation in CBP custody. 

William and Obelia [names changed to protect privacy] each had fled Venezuela and met each other on the journey. In Ciudad Juarez, they were able to schedule an appointment through CBPOne for March 12, but in Nogales, Sonora. They had to travel atop La Bestia (cargo train) to get to the appointment. They arrived at 12 pm for their appointment and each explained that they had lost their original IDs while traveling through the Darien Gap. They each had photocopies of their IDs that family members had sent to them after having lost their originals. The CBP agent detained them both at the Nogales POE – Obelia until 8 pm and William until 3 am. The CBP agent confiscated Obelia’s copy of her ID and the paper she had printed with the appointment confirmation. He said, “Do you think I’d let you enter with this?” and, “You crossed through 8 countries to get here- why didn’t you seek asylum in one of those countries? Why the US?” The agents rejected them both for not having original IDs and expelled them to the streets of Nogales, Obelia at 8 pm and William at 3 am.

— “March 16 update from KBI” (Nogales: Kino Border Initiative, March 16, 2023).

Sector(s): Tucson Field Office

Agency(ies): Office of Field Operations

Event Type(s): Confiscation of Documents, Dangerous Deportation, Denial of Access to Asylum

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: Single Adult, Venezuela

Early March, 2023

Reporting on March 2, 2023, the Nogales-based Kino Border Initiative (KBI), stated, “The CBPOne application is currently the sole way to access the asylum process in the US. The extremely limited number of appointments and the myriad technology and accessibility challenges in accessing them (outlined in the Strauss Center’s February Asylum Processing Report) has led to irregular crossing, kidnapping, family separation and danger for families forced to wait in Mexico when they are unable to access an appointment on the app.”

Among cases cited:

Jaime, [name changed to protect privacy] his wife and his son fled Venezuela and arrived in Piedras Negras, Coahuila. There, they were able to schedule an appointment through CBPOne, but the only available appointment was in San Ysidro, Baja California, over 1200 miles away. While traveling to San Ysidro by bus, the entire family was kidnapped, tortured and extorted by a criminal group. The people who boarded the bus identified themselves as Mexican immigration agents, and after asking Jaime and his family where they were from, told them they needed to get off the bus so they could check their documents. These supposed immigration agents brought them to a house, where they were held for 20 days, extorted and tortured. One night at 3 am, they were blindfolded, put in a truck and taken to the border wall. They said they had to walk and cross and if they tried to come back they would kill them. Once they crossed, they called 911 and explained what happened. BP arrived and they explained that they had been kidnapped, had missed their CBPOne appt while being held hostage, and were forced to cross. The agent responded that really they were the criminals because they had crossed illegally. A few hours later, BP expelled them to Nogales, Mexico. 

“March 2 update from KBI” (Nogales: Kino Border Initiative, March 2, 2023).

Sector(s): Tucson

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Dangerous Deportation, Denial of Protection to Most Vulnerable, Endangerment

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: Family Unit

Late February, 2023

Reporting on March 2, 2023,  the Nogales-based Kino Border Initiative (KBI), which maintains a migrant shelter in Nogales, Sonora, stated, “Over the past 2 weeks, 73 people (16% of new arrivals) reported experiencing abuse by authorities or criminal actors in transit countries, including Mexico. This pattern of abuse illustrates that policies that force asylum seekers to wait or seek protection in transit countries, such as the proposed asylum ban, do not provide people with adequate access to safety.”

Among cases cited:

Wilhelmina [name changed to protect privacy] fled Venezuela after her parents were killed. She left with her 2 children and her cousin, who is a trans woman. In early February, they were all kidnapped in a Mexican border city and Wilhelmina’s cousin was raped by their captors. Wilhemina escaped with her children and they turned themselves into BP. BP took away all their clothing and expelled them back to the same city where they had been kidnapped. She has not heard from her cousin since February 8, 2023.

“March 2 update from KBI” (Nogales: Kino Border Initiative, March 2, 2023).

Sector(s): Tucson

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Dangerous Deportation, Endangerment

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: Family Unit, Female, LGBTQ