May 11, 2021

A report from the Kino Border Initiative (KBI) and NETWORK discussed a Guatemalan asylum seeker’s separation from her brother and inability to request asylum while in Border Patrol custody in Arizona.

A Guatemalan woman traveling with her son and brother were detained by Border Patrol once they entered the United States and processed at an open-air border facility. At the open-air facility, they did not ask them why they were in the US or give them a chance to claim asylum.

There, she was separated from her brother. She was told this was because he was a minor and not her son. She told the agent she had a power of attorney paper signed by her mother to care for her brother and presented the papers. They didn’t accept the papers.

They transferred them to Tucson. The three of them had fled Guatemala because of the murder of family members. In the Tucson facility, she could see her brother detained separately with the other minors. That was the last time she saw her brother as of the time this complaint was filed.

At the Tucson facility, she told an agent she was afraid to return to Guatemala and she tried to show documentation of violence, the death certificates of her family members killed by organized crime. The CBP agent told her that her documents were likely fake because she comes from a “corrupt” country. In addition, the CBP agents said that every day, immigrants come to the facility with this type of paperwork. She tried to persuade him to look up the names of the murders online so he could see she was telling him the truth and the documents were real. He did not. She and her son were expelled to Nogales, Sonora.

KBI filed a May 19, 2021 complaint with the DHS Office on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL) and the CBP Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR). On June 1, CRCL emailed that “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)

Sector(s): Tucson

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

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

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

Victim Classification: Accompanied Child, Family Unit, Guatemala