April 4, 2021

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

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

KBI filed an April 8, 2021 complaint with the DHS Office on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL) and the CBP Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR). On June 30, CRCL emailed “saying they received the complaint and forwarded it to the OIG. No details were provided about disciplinary actions for officers or recourse for victims of abuse.”

Due Process Denied (United States: Kino Border Initiative (KBI) and NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice, August 2021) https://networklobby.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/KINO-NETWORK-CBP-Abuses-consolidated.pdf.

Sector(s): Tucson

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Denial of Medical Care

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

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