January 2, 2023

Al Otro Lado, a legal aid organization offering free support to deportees, refugees, and separated families, filed a lawsuit against U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) for failing to provide records related to the death of Idania Osorio Dominguez, a Cuban migrant who died in CBP custody in Eagle Pass, Texas, on January 2, 2023.

Lianet Alvarez Osorio, Osorio Dominguez’s daughter, discovered her mother’s death through a media release on the CBP website on January 15, 2023, after weeks of uncertainty regarding her mother’s whereabouts. The CBP statement provided details about an unnamed female Cuban national and her interactions with Border Patrol agents, including her medical screening. It was through this press release and information shared by her mother’s companion while in CBP custody that Alvarez Osorio was able to determine that her mother had been dead for two weeks. 

Despite learning of her mother’s death and making information requests, CBP continued to withhold information, even though they had conducted an internal investigation. CBP failed to follow its protocol of notifying the next of kin. 

Consequently, with Al Otro Lado’s assistance, Alvarez Osorio filed a FOIA request with CBP on March 8, 2023 for records related to her mother’s death and submitted a signed privacy waiver, seeking transparency and accountability. CBP acknowledged the lawsuit but has not yet taken any steps to release Idania’s death records. 

This process for Idania’s family was also driven by recent whistleblower allegations questioning the adequacy of CBP’s medical services for migrants and the accuracy of their medical records. In November 2023, attorneys from the Government Accountability Project submitted a whistleblower letter to Congress on behalf of a former employee of Loyal Source Government Services, the medical contractor for CBP border facilities. The letter highlighted Loyal Source’s failures in providing adequate medical services to migrants, including significant understaffing and poor record keeping.

Alvarez Osorio continues to seek answers about the circumstances of her mother’s death and according to the official CBP press release, the incident is being reviewed by the Maverick County Justice of the Peace and Customs and Border Protection’s Office of Professional Responsibility and The Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General was also notified.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection, “Apprehended woman dies in Eagle Pass, Texas soft sided facility, despite life-saving efforts”. (2024, January 15). https://www.cbp.gov/newsroom/national-media-release/apprehended-woman-dies-eagle-pass-texas-soft-sided-facility-despite.

Alvarez Osorio v. CBP. (2024, February 6). https://holdcbpaccountable.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/03/7_redacted.pdf.

Sector(s): CBP, Del Rio

Agency(ies): CBP

Event Type(s): Conditions in Custody, Fatal Encounter, Misuse of Intelligence Capability

Accountability Status: Shared with OPR, Under OPR Investigation

Victim Classification: Cuba, Female, Medical Condition