October 12, 2022

A report published by Oxfam America and the Tahirih Justice Center includes this example of gender-based harm in Border Patrol custody, gathered from a February interview with a migrant woman.

A painful example, shared by a provider recalling a client who had been detained by CBP [59] at the border, highlights the ways in which US officials ignore women’s needs. This client, a young woman, was forced by CBP to spend over 72 hours in a cell without access to sanitary items she needed for menstruation while being harassed by a CBP officer:

“She was held in a holding cell that you’re not supposed to be in for more than 72 hours, like right at the border, but she was there for…maybe five days…She was held for significantly longer than she was supposed to be and was only allowed to be in her underwear. She was on her period and was given no menstrual sanitary items—pads, tampons or anything…[She was] forced to sit there cold in her underwear with this one officer that she said she felt like had it out for her…[he would] say really mean things to her and not let her sleep and make her get her little kid up who’s only five.” [60]

— Duvisac, Sara, and Irena Sullivan. “Surviving Deterrence: How Us Asylum Deterrence Policies Normalize Gender-Based Violence.” United States: Oxfam America, Tahirih Justice Center, October 12, 2022. <https://www.tahirih.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/10/Oxfam_Tahirh_Surviving-Deterrence_English_2022.pdf>.

Footnotes from above:

[59] We use the term “CBP” because the vast majority of our interview respondents refer to US officials at the border as “CBP.” These officials are most likely Border Patrol agents.

[60] Interview 13, February 2022.


Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Abusive Language, Conditions in Custody, Denial of Medical Care, Gender-Based Harm or Violence

Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: Female, Single Adult