120 Records of Alleged Abusive or Improper Conduct where the victim classification is “Family Unit”

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

Mid-September 2023

Customs and Border Protection (CBP), along with other U.S. law enforcement agencies, bought access to— and has used for years— commercially sourced location data harvested from smartphones, revealed 404 Media. The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report on September 12, finding that the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Office of Intelligence and Analysis “is not fully implementing activities intended to monitor whether personnel are following its policies to protect the privacy, civil rights, and civil liberties of U.S. persons, including U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents.”

A former location data company worker indicated that Commercial Telemetry Data (CTD) is typically used to track “herds of people”, but that it can be used to monitor specific targets, as has been done in the past. Reports indicated that data has been used to identify border crossings and consequently arrest people. Since the agencies paid a commercial vendor for the data, they have not been required to acquire a warrant or another court order to obtain the information. CBP, in response to investigations, stated that “CBP officers, agents, and analysts are provided with access to the vendor’s interface on a case-by-case basis, and are only able to view a limited sample of anonymized data consistent with existing border security or law enforcement operations. All CBP operations in which commercially available telemetry data may be used are undertaken in furtherance of CBP’s responsibility to enforce U.S. law at the border and in accordance with relevant legal, policy, and privacy requirements.”

CBP discontinued the use of CTD at the end Fiscal Year 2023, on September 30, 2023. The reasons for discontinuation are unknown. 


Despite its termination, CBP publicly stated that if the agency, “identifies a critical mission need to re-acquire a vendor who provides CTD, we would ensure CBP would engage Oversight, Legal, and Privacy entities at the agency and department level.”

“Homeland Security: Office of Intelligence and Analysis Should Improve Privacy Oversight and Assessment of Its Effectiveness.” Washington: U. S. Government Accountability Office, August 28, 2023. https://www.gao.gov/products/gao-23-105475.
Cox, Joseph. “Customs and Border Protection Says It Will Stop Buying Smartphone Location Data.” 404 Media, September 12, 2023. https://www.404media.co/customs-and-border-protection-stop-buying-location-data/.

Sector(s): CBP

Agency(ies): CBP, DHS

Event Type(s): Civil Liberties or Privacy Infringement

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: 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

Mid-July 2023

According to The Intercept, dozens of migrants arriving at the border were being detained outside, amid a record-setting heatwave in Arizona. Two hours west of Tucson, the Ajo Border Patrol Station received an influx of migrants over the course of the week, roughly beginning on July 16th. While the station can process a couple hundred people a day, The Intercept reported that over 1,000 people had been turning themselves in at the border wall.

Although migrants were being detained outside, Border Patrol officials claimed the outside area was only being used for men, and that migrants had access to meals, water, and a large fan. They confirmed that once these migrants were screened, they were transported to other locations for processing. According to CNN’s report, Border Patrol claimed zero migrants had died in their custody since the beginning of the heat wave, despite the influx of arrivals. 

However, The Intercept revealed that officials refused to answer questions regarding how long people were being kept outside, whether or not children were being detained outside, or if the people detained outside were given emergency medical care. Intercept’s report also states that there was not a canopy above the outside area as Border Patrol agents claimed. 
As the heat worsened, many advocates worried about the safety of the migrants One official stated that by failing to provide resources such as proper heating or cooling equipment, it is essentially impossible for agents to abide by regulations of humane treatment. When interviewing agents anonymously for their report, many officials revealed that they were unaware of who signed off for migrants to be held outside. Some agents believed the treatment was “what they get for coming here illegally”, other agents were appalled at the conditions of the outdoor holding pen, and had liability concerns.

Weisfeldt, Sara, and Rosa Flores. “US Customs and Border Protection Sends Resources to Remote Arizona Area after Increase in Migrant Crossings.” CNN, August 5, 2023. https://www.cnn.com/2023/08/05/us/arizona-border-crossing-migrants/index.html.
Sullivan, Eileen. “This Agency Was Created With a Terrorism Focus. Now It Also Has to Care for Migrants.” The New York Times, July 13, 2023, sec. U.S. https://www.nytimes.com/2023/07/13/us/politics/cbp-border-migrants-immigration-el-paso.html.
Devereaux, Ryan. “Border Patrol Violating Court Order Against Inhumane Treatment of Migrants, Officials Say.” The Intercept, August 28, 2023. https://theintercept.com/2023/08/28/border-migrants-arizona-cages/.
Devereaux, Ryan. “Border Patrol Is Caging Migrants Outdoors During Deadly Arizona Heatwave.” The Intercept, July 21, 2023. https://theintercept.com/2023/07/21/arizona-heatwave-border-patrol-migrants/.
Bosque, Melissa del. “Ajo Residents, Activists Protest Inhumane Conditions for Asylum Seekers.” The Border Chronicle, February 23, 2023. https://www.theborderchronicle.com/p/ajo-residents-activists-protest-inhumane.

Sector(s): Border Patrol, Tucson

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Conditions in Custody, Denial of Protection to Most Vulnerable

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: Family Unit, 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

May 17, 2023

Anadith Danay Reyes Alvarez, an eight-year-old Panamanian daughter of Honduran parents, died on her ninth day of being held in CBP custody with her family in Border Patrol’s Harlingen, Texas Station. The likely cause was influenza.

The family had turned themselves in to Border Patrol in Texas on May 9, 2023, two days before the Title 42 pandemic expulsion policy came to an end, a time when the agency was apprehending about 10,000 people per day. This may have prolonged their time in custody, although the Associated Press reported that by May 14, the average time in custody border-wide had fallen to 77 hours as the rate of new apprehensions dropped rapidly. Under normal circumstances, migrants are meant to spend no more than 72 hours in Border Patrol’s austere holding facilities.

According to a series of CBP statements and updates about Reyes’s case, on May 14th Reyes voiced complaints of abdominal pain, nasal congestion, and cough. That day, CBP-contracted medical personnel reported a fever of 101.8 degrees and a positive test result for Influenza A. In accordance with CBP protocol, the family was transferred to Harlingen Border Patrol Station for communicable disease medical isolation.

Reyes’s mother, Mabel Álvarez Benedicks, told the Associated Press that Border Patrol personnel, including medical contractors, repeatedly denied her appeals for medical aid, including an ambulance and hospitalization, in some cases just administering fever-reducing medication.

CBP reported that the family requested the medical personnel review Anadith’s medical documents to understand her medical conditions: a history of heart problems and sickle-cell anemia (original link). The parents made four requests for an ambulance. All requests were denied.

CBP acknowledged that medical personnel at the Harlingen Border Patrol Station refused to escalate Anadith’s level of care, even as her fever rose to 104.9 degrees early on May 16, the day before she passed. “Contracted medical personnel did not consult with on-call physicians (including an on-call pediatrician) about the girl’s condition, symptoms, or treatment,” the agency’s June 1 statement continued. “The contracted medical personnel failed to document numerous medical encounters, emergency antipyretic interventions, and administrations of medicine.”

The statement went on to note that “the camera system at Harlingen Station was flagged for repair/replacement on April 13. The outage was not reported to CBP OPR as required by H.R. 1158, Fiscal Year 2020 DHS Consolidated Appropriation.”

CBP reported nine medical encounters while the family was in the Harlingen facility. The mother requested emergency attention three times on the 17th; that day, the girl had a seizure, became unresponsive, and was transported to a hospital, where personnel declared her deceased within minutes.

“They killed my daughter, because she was nearly a day and a half without being able to breathe,” Álvarez Benedicks told the Associated Press. “She cried and begged for her life and they ignored her. They didn’t do anything for her.”

When she reported her daughter’s bone pain to an agent, she said he responded, “‘Oh, your daughter is growing up. That’s why her bones hurt. Give her water.’”

“I just looked at him,” Alvarez Benedicks said. “How would he know what to do if he’s not a doctor?”

“I felt like they didn’t believe me,” she said.

In an interview with ABC’s GMA3 program, Álvarez Benedicks said “she felt like medical personnel thought she was lying about how sick her child was feeling… She says Anadith told the staff ‘I can’t breathe from my mouth or my nose.’” The mother added her belief that she received poor treatment because she is Black: “I feel that since I got there they discriminated against me because of my skin tone and because I am an immigrant.”

In a May 21 statement, CBP “Senior Official Performing the Duties of Commissioner” Troy Miller informed that the agency would review cases of “medically fragile” people being kept in custody for long periods, and “will immediately initiate a review of medical care practices at CBP facilities and ensure the deployment of additional medical personnel as needed” (original link). The statement added that CBP had added more than 1,000 medical contractors to its facilities since 2021.

In a June 1 statement, Miller pledged other changes like reducing family units’ time in custody, deploying clinicians from the United States Public Health Service (USPHS) to CBP sites, ordering a review of the medical contractor’s practices at CBP facilities, and prohibiting several medical providers involved in the incident from providing care at CBP facilities (original link).

The Washington Post reported that on June 15 CBP transferred its chief medical officer, David Tarantino, to another assignment at DHS. (Tarantino’s position was created in 2020, after, as the Associated Press put it, “at least six children died during a roughly yearlong period from 2018 to 2019 during the Trump administration.”)

The Washington Post and Los Angeles Times reported on internal Department of Homeland Security (DHS) documents finding fault with CBP’s care for medically fragile migrants in the agency’s custody. The Post reviewed a June 8 internal memo from DHS acting chief medical officer Herbert O. Wolfe that found the Harlingen Border Patrol station “lacked sufficient medical engagement and accountability to ensure safe, effective, humane and well-documented medical care.” The memo, according to the Post’s Nick Miroff, “describes an ad hoc system with little ability to manage medical records, poor communication among staff and a lack of clear guidelines for seeking help from doctors outside the border agency.”

In his response to Wolfe, CBP’s Miller stated that he had ordered the relocation of medically vulnerable migrants from the Harlingen station, and halted the facility’s use as an isolation unit. He added that CBP is reviewing its medical record-keeping system and has told its medical contractor to “take immediate action to review practices and quality assurance plans to ensure appropriate care.” That contractor, Loyal Source Government Services, “received a $408 million medical services contract from CBP in 2020,” the Post reported.

The Los Angeles Times obtained documents from DHS’s Office of the Immigration Detention Ombudsman (OIDO) indicating that officials at one of the Texas CBP detention facilities where Anadith’s family was held had been “complaining about the facility’s ‘overuse of hospitalization.’” A May 22 memo reported by the Times’s Hamed Aleaziz noted that the staff of CBP’s Donna, Texas processing facility “had a ‘tendency to send migrants to the hospital for things that could easily be treated on location,’ the investigators wrote.” Days earlier, agents refused Anadith Reyes’ parents’ repeated pleas for an ambulance and hospital care.

The August 25, 2023 Washington Post reported that Border Patrol had already decided not to renew a $25 million per month contract with the company providing medical services in its Harlingen, Texas station when Reyes passed there. The agency had not yet selected a company to take over duties performed by Florida-based Loyal Source Government Services, which had filed protests about the contracting process.

Anadith Danay Reyes Alvarez was laid to rest in New Jersey on June 17. “We will let our baby rest and let her rest in peace. We want justice for her so that no one else has to go through this,” read a statement from the family. According to the Associated Press, attorneys with the Texas Civil Rights Project and the Haitian Bridge Alliance have requested an independent autopsy to determine the cause of her death.

— U.S. Customs and Border Protection. “June 1, 2023 Update: Death in Custody of 8-Year-Old in Harlingen, Texas,” June 1, 2023. https://www.cbp.gov/newsroom/speeches-and-statements/june-1-2023-update-death-custody-8-year-old-harlingen-texas.

— U.S. Customs and Border Protection. “Statement from CBP Acting Commissioner Troy Miller on the Investigation of the In-Custody Death of a Child,” June 1, 2023. https://www.cbp.gov/newsroom/speeches-and-statements/statement-cbp-acting-commissioner-troy-miller-investigation.

— U.S. Customs and Border Protection. “Update: Death in Custody of 8-Year-Old in Harlingen, Texas,” May 21, 2023. https://www.cbp.gov/newsroom/speeches-and-statements/update-death-custody-8-year-old-harlingen-texas.

— U.S. Customs and Border Protection. “Statement from CBP Acting Commissioner Troy Miller Regarding the Ongoing Investigation of In-Custody Death,” May 21, 2023. https://www.cbp.gov/newsroom/speeches-and-statements/statement-cbp-acting-commissioner-troy-miller-regarding-ongoing.

— U.S. Customs and Border Protection. “Statement from CBP,” May 17, 2023. https://www.cbp.gov/newsroom/speeches-and-statements/statement-cbp.

— Gonzalez, Valerie. “Mother of 8-Year-Old Girl Who Died in Border Patrol Custody Says Pleas for Hospital Care Were Denied.” Associated Press, May 20, 2023. https://apnews.com/article/border-patrol-custody-death-harlingen-8da5429f39cb7ac0ff4c9184a42d8ba2.

— Garcia, Armando. “CBP Ignored Pleas for Help before Migrant Girl’s Death, Parents Say.” ABC News, June 22, 2023. https://abcnews.go.com/US/cbp-pleas-migrant-girls-death-parents/story?id=100271491.

— Miroff, Nick. “CBP Reassigns Chief Medical Officer after Child’s Death in Border Custody.” Washington Post, June 15, 2023. https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2023/06/15/border-patrol-medical-care-child-death/.

— Spagat, Elliot. “Death of 8-Year-Old Girl in Border Patrol Custody Highlights Challenges Providing Medical Care.” AP News, May 22, 2023. https://apnews.com/article/border-patrol-custody-child-death-e6dbfde4986eb9e8a91284c3f80293df.

— Miroff, Nick. “Inquiry after Girl’s Death Reports Unsafe Medical Care in U.S. Border Facilities.” Washington Post, June 22, 2023. https://www.washingtonpost.com/immigration/2023/06/22/medical-care-unsafe-border-facilities-migrants/.

— Aleaziz, Hamed. “Border Patrol Officials Complained of ‘overuse of Hospitalization’ as 8-Year-Old Died.” Los Angeles Times, June 28, 2023. https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2023-06-28/8-year-old-border-patrol-death-fever-hospital.

— Univision. “Entierran a la niña que murió en custodia de la Patrulla Fronteriza y sus padres aseguran: ‘Buscaremos justicia.’” Univision, June 17, 2023. https://www.univision.com/noticias/inmigracion/padres-nina-8-anos-murio-custodia-patrulla-fronteriza-entierran.

— Gonzalez, Valerie, and Liset Cruz. “Balloons, Tears and Hugs as Family of Girl Who Died in Border Patrol Custody Holds New York Funeral.” AP News, June 16, 2023. https://apnews.com/article/border-patrol-anadith-custody-death-8cfee1e24758eefc21086ff3a2215943.

— Miroff, Nick. “Before Child Died in Custody, CBP Tried to Replace Medical Contractor.” Washington Post, August 28, 2023. https://www.washingtonpost.com/immigration/2023/08/25/border-medical-migrants-loyal-source/.

Sector(s): Rio Grande Valley

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Conditions in Custody, Denial of Medical Care, Fatal Encounter

Last Known Accountability Status: Shared with DHS OIG, Shared with Local Police, Under OPR Investigation

Victim Classification: Accompanied Child, Family Unit, Female, Panama

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

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

April 8, 2023

An analysis from the American Immigration Council’s Dara Lind recounted the case of a father who was killed in front of his children in Tijuana, several weeks after being turned away at the port of entry. This case is one of several testimonies collected by the American Immigration Council, as part of a lawsuit challenging CBP’s continued turnbacks of asylum seekers at ports of entry.

On April 8, the Mexican family came to the San Ysidro port of entry in Tijuana and asked to be let into the United States to seek asylum, as they were fleeing immediate cartel violence in Mexico. The father had been shot and his arm was bleeding. According to the mother, their family begged the U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers to let them through the gates.

“We showed CBP officers my husband’s bleeding wound and explained the immediate danger we were in,” [the wife] testifie[d]. The officers refused. They told the family that since they didn’t have an appointment for the day via the CBP One app, they had no right to flee the cartel.

The family finally got a CBP One appointment in July 2023, but they had to exclude the father, since on May 1, while the family headed to the Tijuana airport in an attempt to flee to Canada, they were attacked again, resulting in a shooting that killed the father of the family. He died in front of his wife, their 5-year-old daughter and 4-year-old son.

— Lind, Dara. “CBP’s Continued ‘Turnbacks’ Are Sending Asylum Seekers Back to Lethal Danger.” Immigration Impact (blog), August 10, 2023. https://immigrationimpact.com/2023/08/10/cbp-turnback-policy-lawsuit-danger/.

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, Endangerment

Last Known Accountability Status: Lawsuit or Claim Filed

Victim Classification: Family Unit, Mexico

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

February 21, 2023

Media and NGO reporting indicated that CBP began forcing asylum-seeking families to separate at the borderline when only some family members were able to secure appointments, via the “CBP One” smartphone app, at ports of entry. Due to a very limited number of exemptions to the Title 42 expulsions policy, these appointments are scarce, and difficult to obtain for parents and children all together.

In February 2023 CBP officers on the borderline reportedly began more strictly enforcing appointments, refusing entry to family members who had not managed to secure appointments with the app, even as they accompanied spouses or parents with appointments.

The Rio Grande Valley, Texas Monitor reported on the scene at the bridge between Reynosa, Tamaulipas and Hidalgo, Texas:

Over on the Hidalgo bridge connecting with Reynosa, Priscilla Orta, an attorney working with Lawyers for Good Government, was in line last Wednesday waiting to cross back into the U.S.

“Next thing I know, there it is, at the bridge, you’re seeing it — people are being forced to make the decisions, families are fighting, there’s crying, they’re screaming,” Orta said.

Families she spoke with also reported feeling jilted by the sudden enforcement that meant they’d have to make a quick decision.

Orta returned to frantic families in Reynosa the next day with questions that CBP is attempting to address.

“I think what’s happening now is that they are trying to correct the issue,” Orta said. “But it’s a pretty big issue, because there are no slots,” she said, referring to the appointment slots available. “They’re gone sometimes by 8:03 a.m. We have sometimes seen that the spots are gone by 8:01 a.m. And everyone knows it.”

On February 24, 2023, the Los Angeles Times cited a Venezuelan migrant who went through this experience in Matamoros, Tamaulipas:

The 25-year-old from Venezuela eventually secured appointments for himself and his wife, but the slots filled up so quickly that he couldn’t get two more for their children. They weren’t worried though — they had heard about families in similar situations being waved through by border officials.

Instead, he said, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection agent told them last week that because each member of the family did not have an appointment: “You two can enter, but not your children.”

— Gonzalez, Valerie. “Families Consider Separation to Seek Asylum as They Face Limited Appointments through CBP App.” The Monitor. February 22, 2023. <https://myrgv.com/local-news/2023/02/21/families-consider-separation-to-seek-asylum-as-they-face-limited-appointments-through-cbp-app/>.

— Castillo, Andrea. “Forced to Apply for Asylum on an Overloaded App, Migrants Face Decision to Split up Families or Wait Indefinitely.” Los Angeles Times. February 24, 2023, sec. Politics. <https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2023-02-24/asylum-seeking-families-consider-separation-shortage-mobile-app-appointments>.

Sector(s): Laredo Field Office

Agency(ies): Office of Field Operations

Event Type(s): Family Separation

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: Family Unit, Venezuela

Mid February, 2023

Reporting on February 16, 2023, the Nogales-based Kino Border Initiative (KBI) recounted a case of family separation due to a scarcity in CBP One appointments.

Tomas [name changed to protect privacy] fled the Dominican Republic and after trying many times, was able to get an appointment through CBPOne for himself. However, he was not able to add his children to his appointment and when he and his family arrived at the port of entry, the officials said, “If you’re going to enter, you have to enter alone and leave your kids behind.”

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

Sector(s): Tucson

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Family Separation

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: Family Unit

Mid-February

Reporting on March 2, 2023, the Nogales-based Kino Border Initiative (KBI) recounted a case of family separation resulting from CBP One appointment scarcity.

In mid-February 2023, Jesús [name changed to protect privacy], Rosa [name changed to protect privacy] and their 2 kids approached the port of entry with a CBPOne appointment. The application would only allow the family to list Jesús and Rosa and would not permit them to add their 2 children, ages 4 and 6, to the same appointment. The CBP agent at the Nogales POE said the children could not be admitted because they were not registered, and if Jesús and Rosa wanted to keep their appointment, they would have to cross and leave their children behind. Jesús asked if he and his son could cross together instead, so that Rosa would only have to try to secure an appointment for 2 people, rather than 4 if they all stayed. The official aggressively responded that he could not. As they tried to figure out what to do, CBP officials said if they didn’t vacate the premises they were going to call the Mexican police to remove them. Jesús finally decided he would cross alone, so that he could find a way to support his family, figuring it would be slightly easier for Rosa to secure 3 appointments. After informing the officer of his decision, the officer asked Jesús, “Are you really going to leave your family all alone?” As a result of these obstacles to seeking asylum as a family unit, Jesús and his family decided he would cross alone. 

“March 2 update from KBI” (Nogales: Kino Border Initiative, March 2, 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: Family Unit

February 7, 2023

Reporting on February 16, 2023, the Nogales-based Kino Border Initiative (KBI) recounted a case of confiscation of personal belongings, including medication and baby formula before being expelled to Mexico under Title 42.

Jazmin [name changed to protect privacy] said that BP confiscated their belongings and threw away medication, baby formula and diapers. Jazmin and her family were deported without diapers or formula for her youngest son and they had to find people who would give them these items for free, as they did not have any money.

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

Sector(s): Tucson

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Denial of Protection to Most Vulnerable, Disregard of Public Health, Inappropriate Deportation, Non-Return of Belongings

Last Known Accountability Status:

Victim Classification: Ecuador, Family Unit, Female

Late January, 2023

Reporting on February 2, 2023, the Nogales-based Kino Border Initiative (KBI) recounted a case of family separation in Border Patrol custody.

Emelia [name changed to protect privacy] was traveling with her 6 year old granddaughter who suffers from epilepsy and needs to be reunited with her mother who lives in the US. Although Emelia had a notarized letter giving her permission to travel with her granddaughter as well as her medical diagnosis, BP [Border Patrol] separated her from her granddaughter, who wears a diaper and doesn’t verbally communicate due to her disability.

— “Early February Update on Asylum, Border, and Deportations from KBI” (Nogales: Kino Border Initiative, February 2, 2023).

Sector(s): Tucson

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Family Separation

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: Disability, Family Unit

Late December, 2022

Reporting on January 5, 2023, the Nogales-based Kino Border Initiative (KBI) recounted CBP’s repeated use of Title 42 to expel a Venezuelan mother and child who had been kidnapped in Mexico.

Reina [name changed to protect privacy] fled Venezuela to save herself and her son after her husband and brother were killed. In Mexico, the mafia forced them off of the bus they were traveling on and kidnapped them for 15 days until her niece in the US could pay the ransom fee. They have tried twice to cross into the US and CBP expelled them twice, which puts them in danger of the mafia targeting them yet again.

— “January 5th Update from KBI” (Nogales: Kino Border Initiative, January 5, 2023).

Sector(s): Tucson

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

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

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: Family Unit, Kidnap Victim, Venezuela

Early December 2022

Reporting on December 15, 2022, the Nogales-based Kino Border Initiative (KBI) stated, “Over the past 2 weeks, KBI staff learned about 5 cases of family separation at the border, a practice that disorients and traumatizes families.”

Among cases cited:

Margarita [name changed to protect privacy], her sister, and her cousin turned themselves in to BP [Border Patrol], seeking protection after fleeing violence in Southern Mexico. BP agents separated them and deported Margarita in one location and her cousin and her sister in another. Margarita was robbed after being deported alone in Nogales.

— “December 15 update from KBI” (Nogales: Kino Border Initiative, December 15, 2022).

Sector(s): Tucson

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Family Separation

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: Family Unit, Female, Mexico

Early December, 2022

Reporting on December 15, 2022, the Nogales-based Kino Border Initiative (KBI) stated, “Over the past 2 weeks, KBI staff learned about 5 cases of family separation at the border, a practice that disorients and traumatizes families.”

Among cases cited:

Tomas [name changed to protect privacy] was traveling with his sister after fleeing violence in Guatemala. After crossing into the US through the desert, his sister lost consciousness and they had to call 911 to get assistance. BP [Border Patrol] agents came to rescue her, but they then separated Tomas from his sister. They were not able to reunite until they were both deported and managed to find one another in Nogales, Sonora.

— “December 15 update from KBI” (Nogales: Kino Border Initiative, December 15, 2022).

Sector(s): Tucson

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Family Separation

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: Family Unit, Single Adult

Mid-October, 2022

Reporting on October 27, 2022, the Nogales-based Kino Border Initiative (KBI) recounted a case of Border Patrol agents separating members of a migrant family.

Olga [name changed to protect privacy] was traveling with her son and her friend’s child, Leonel [name changed to protect privacy], of whom she has legal guardianship. Upon being apprehended by BP, [Border Patrol] agents separated Olga from Leonel because he wasn’t her biological child. They pushed him aggressively against the BP truck and took him, even though Olga had a notarized document showing her guardianship. They told Olga his biological mom had to get him and expelled Olga and her son without Leonel.

— “October 27 update from KBI” (Nogales: Kino Border Initiative, October 27, 2022).

Sector(s): Tucson

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Family Separation

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: Family Unit

Mid-September 2022

Reporting in September 2022, the Nogales-based Kino Border Initiative (KBI) related the separation of an Indigenous Mexican father and son in Border Patrol custody.

BP [Border Patrol] apprehended Alan [name changed to protect privacy] and his 17 year old son after they had walked nearly 2 days in the desert. BP brought them to a holding cell where they stayed for one night together. The next morning, they separated Alan from his son, even after he explained their relationship. The agents only said that it was a crime to cross without papers. Alan arrived at KBI after spending 11 days detained and with no information about his son’s whereabouts. Further, Alan and his son speak Nahuatl natively and Spanish is their second language, making the family reunification process even more challenging.

— “September 15 update from KBI” (Nogales: Kino Border Initiative, September 15, 2022).

Sector(s): Tucson

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Family Separation

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: Accompanied Child, Family Unit, Indigenous, Mexico

Mid-September 2022

The Nogales-based Kino Border Initiative (KBI) related the expulsion of a protection-seeking Mexican family that had just suffered an armed assault.

Before Nicolas [name changed to protect privacy] , his wife and children crossed into the US, they suffered an armed assault in Nogales, Sonora. They sought asylum with a BP official who told him they would be able to seek asylum, but shortly after, expelled them without explanation and without channeling them to a fear interview. On the bus that took them back to Nogales, Nicolas approached an agent and said he couldn’t go back to his country, that they would kill him, but the agent responded, “I don’t care; go back to your country.” CBP then expelled Nicolas and his family back to where they had just been assaulted.

— “September 15 update from KBI” (Nogales: Kino Border Initiative, September 15, 2022).

Sector(s): Tucson

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

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

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: Family Unit, Mexico

Mid-September 2022

The Nogales-based Kino Border Initiative (KBI) related the expulsion of a Honduran mother and children seeking to escape sexual abuse and prolonged captivity, even after Border Patrol agents gave her hope of being able to seek asylum.

Heydi [name changed to protect privacy] and her 2 daughters fled Honduras where a member of organized crime had held Heydi captive for the past 10 years and forced her to have children with him. When BP apprehended Heydi and her daughters in the desert, she showed an agent evidence that she had been held captive and explained that she wanted to seek asylum. He only said, “okay.” On the bus to Tucson, she approached an agent that she noticed spoke Spanish well and explained her situation. He asked to see the evidence, read over the papers and told her to show them to the agents in Tucson so that they could help her. Once in Tucson, she asked the agent processing her how she could request asylum. He responded, “No, we can’t help you.” That same day, Heydi and her daughters were expelled to Nogales, Sonora, where they live in fear of being deported to Honduras, as they have no authorization to stay in Mexico.

— “September 15 update from KBI” (Nogales: Kino Border Initiative, September 15, 2022).

Sector(s): Tucson

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

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

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: Domestic or Gender-Based Violence Victim, Family Unit, Female, Honduras