419 Records of Alleged Abusive or Improper Conduct

Examples of abuses or other behaviors indicating need for reform at U.S. border and migration institutions (RSS feed)

Summer, 2021

A report from Human Rights First discussed the separation of a Cameroonian asylum-seeking man and pregnant wife.

Around summer 2021, DHS separated a Cameroonian man from his pregnant wife when they sought protection at the border. ICE detained the husband at the Aurora Detention Facility in Colorado while detaining the pregnant woman in multiple ICE facilities in Louisiana and Georgia. He was released in July after he established a credible fear of persecution, according to a legal services organization.

“I’m a Prisoner Here”: Biden Administration Policies Lock Up Asylum Seekers (New York: Human Rights First, April 21, 2022) https://www.humanrightsfirst.org/resource/i-m-prisoner-here-biden-administration-policies-lock-asylum-seekers.

Sector(s): Border-Wide

Agency(ies): CBP, ICE

Event Type(s): Family Separation

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: Black, Cameroon, Family Unit, Pregnancy

June, 2021

A report from Human Rights First discussed a Brazilian asylum-seeking father’s prolonged separation from his family.

DHS separated a Brazilian asylum seeker from his wife and infant daughter when they sought refuge at the U.S.-Mexico border in June 2021. Even though they had arrived together, ICE sent the man to the Kandiyohi County Jail in Minnesota, where he was detained until September 2021, according to The Advocates for Human Rights. His wife and baby received parole and were allowed to continue to pursue their asylum case in the community.

“I’m a Prisoner Here”: Biden Administration Policies Lock Up Asylum Seekers (New York: Human Rights First, April 21, 2022) https://www.humanrightsfirst.org/resource/i-m-prisoner-here-biden-administration-policies-lock-asylum-seekers.

Sector(s): Border-Wide

Agency(ies): CBP, ICE

Event Type(s): Family Separation

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: Brazil, Family Unit

June 30, 2021

A report from the Kino Border Initiative (KBI) and NETWORK related the experience of a Guatemalan man, his wife, and son, who entered the United States in Arizona, with the intention of seeking asylum.

They crossed and encountered Border Patrol. The Border Patrol asked if their objective was to seek asylum, and the father said yes. The family was then transported to an outpost and processed. A CBP officer asked where they were from but did not ask any other questions.

They were transported to a facility in Tucson, where the man was separated from his wife and son. They were all moved between several different detention centers, and the only time the man was able to see his wife and son was during transport.

In one of the facilities, he told an agent he feared returning to Guatemala. The agent laughed in his face and said something to the other agents, who all laughed. He felt so humiliated and discouraged to ask for asylum again.

He was moved four times to different border facilities. Finally, he and his family were expelled in the very early morning hours without ever being given a fear assessment or referred to the USCIS.

KBI filed a July 9, 2021 complaint with the DHS Office on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL) and the CBP Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR). On August 5, 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) https://networklobby.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/KINO-NETWORK-CBP-Abuses-consolidated.pdf.

Sector(s): Tucson

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

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

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

Victim Classification: Family Unit, Guatemala

June 23, 2021

A Border Patrol agent driving a marked vehicle gave chase to a pickup truck spotted loading people near the Rio Grande in Laredo, Texas. A Border Patrol statement notes that the agent had lost track of the truck, which later collided into another vehicle (original link):

The pickup immediately left the area at a high rate of speed, causing several people to fall from the vehicle. The BPA radioed to additional BPAs in the area as he attempted to catch up with the white pickup truck.  The BPA lost sight of the vehicle and radioed to other agents notifying them that he could not locate the vehicle.

The pickup collided into a SUV at the intersection of Main Avenue and Jefferson Street, approximately 16 blocks northwest of the BPA’s location. Border Patrol EMTs, Laredo Fire Department Emergency Medical Services (EMS), and Laredo Police Department (LPD) responded to the scene of the collision. No Border Patrol units were pursuing the white pickup truck at the time of the crash. The first Border Patrol unit arrived on the scene within a minute and came from the opposite direction without its lights and sirens activated.

The accident killed three people aboard the pickup truck and injured eight. Border Patrol noted, “This incident is being reviewed by the Webb County Medical Examiner’s Office and CBP’s Office of Professional Responsibility and is being investigated by the Laredo Police Department.”

— “Correction on June 23 Vehicle Accident in Laredo, Texas” (Washington: Customs and Border Protection, June 26, 2021) https://www.cbp.gov/newsroom/speeches-and-statements/correction-june-23-vehicle-accident-laredo-texas.

Sector(s): Laredo

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Vehicle Pursuit

Last Known Accountability Status: Under OPR Investigation

Victim Classification: Single Adult

June 17, 2021

A CBP release described a Border Patrol chase that ended with a fatal vehicle crash, after an agent deployed a vehicle immobilization device across an Arizona highway (original link).

On June 17, 2021, a Border Patrol Agent (BPA) observed two suspected undocumented migrants getting into a vehicle along Arizona State Route 85 (SR 85), approximately one and a half miles north of the Lukeville, AZ Port of Entry. Approximately 20 miles north of where the suspected undocumented migrants entered the vehicle, another BPA waiting on SR 85, activated his emergency lights and sirens and attempted to stop the vehicle. The vehicle did not stop and continued for approximately one mile, where another BPA deployed a vehicle immobilization device (VID) across the roadway. The driver of the suspected smuggling vehicle attempted to avoid running over the VID and subsequently lost control and crashed.

One of the two undocumented migrants in the vehicle, a male citizen of Mexico, was in critical condition and was transported to the Abrazo West Medical Center in Goodyear, AZ where he ultimately succumbed to his injuries on June 19, 2021.

This incident is being investigated by Homeland Security Investigations, the Arizona Department of Public Safety and reviewed by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Office of Professional Responsibility. The Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General was also notified of the incident.

— “Failure to Yield Results in Death” (Washington: Customs and Border Protection, June 21, 2021) https://www.cbp.gov/newsroom/speeches-and-statements/failure-yield-results-death-0.

Sector(s): Tucson

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Vehicle Pursuit

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

Victim Classification: Mexico, Single Adult

June 16, 2021

A Border Patrol agent in Nogales, Arizona fired a 9 millimeter handgun round at a white Kia SUV, striking Marisol García Alcántara, a 37-year-old undocumented Mexican mother of three who was riding in the vehicle’s backseat. Ms. García Alcántara was struck in the head and wounded.

On December 9, 2021, Ms. García Alcántara filed a Federal Torts Claim Act claim with CBP seeking compensation for the injuries she suffered (original link). This is a required step before filing a lawsuit. It claims that Ms. García Alcántara was “unarmed and defenseless, and represented no risk of harm to anyone,” and that she “does not know the name of the agent who employed this deadly force.”

According to the police report, a Border Patrol agent told Nogales police that “all he could say was that they had a fail to yield with the Kia, and one shot was fired. Agent Serrano [Border Patrol Supervisor T. Serrano #N55] did not provide me with further information” (original link).

Ms. García Alcántara disputes whether the vehicle in which she was a passenger failed to yield. “The car was slowing down to comply when she felt a strike to her head,” she told the San Diego Union Tribune.

After the incident, she was taken to Tucson for brain surgery. She spent three days in the hospital, was taken to the Florence, Arizona ICE detention facility, and was deported to Mexico on July 15, 2021. She was not interviewed by any agency investigating her shooting. “No one investigated. I returned to Mexico without making a declaration,” she told the Associated Press.

As a result of her bullet wound, the claim states, Ms. García Alcántara has “bullet fragments… lodged in her brain, with permanent life-long consequences. The injuries included intra-cranial hemorrhage, skull fracture, orbital fracture, with bullet and broken bone fragments entering her left frontal lobe.” The Union Tribune reported that Ms. García Alcántara “said she has dizzy spells, excruciating headaches and memory loss. Doctors also told her she’s at risk of becoming epileptic or suffering from facial paralysis in the future.” The BBC reported that she has problems remembering names and words.

A Border Patrol Critical Incident Team (CIT) and FBI agents later arrived on scene. The agency’s secretive CITs have come under increasing scrutiny since October 27, 2021, when an investigation by the Southern Border Communities Coalition (SBCC) alleged that one of their main roles is to gather evidence that might exonerate agents after an abuse occurs. “Marisol’s ability to seek justice, beginning with the filing of the FTCA claim, may be adversely affected by the actions of the CIT,” the SBCC wrote in December 2021.

Ms. Gómez Alcántara was among victims who spoke at a May 2022 SBCC press conference calling for the CITs’ abolition; a May 3, 2022 memorandum from CBP Commissioner Chris Magnus terminated the controversial units.

As of mid-December 2021, no information about this investigation’s findings has been made public. “The U.S. government’s decision to release only limited information about her case highlights how federal law enforcement agencies – which have a large, highly visible presence in Nogales – often feel little obligation to explain their actions to the public following use-of-force incidents,” Nogales International stated in a detailed October 2021 recounting of Ms. Gómez Alcántara’s story. The Associated Press reported in December 2021 that CBP’s Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) was investigating the incident, as was CBP’s National Use of Force Review Board.

On December 23, 2021, a letter from CBP to an attorney representing Ms. García Alcántara requested information and documents about her medical treatments. If the agency does not report on its investigation by June 20, 2022, her attorney plans to file suit in federal court.

“I am asking for justice so they don’t keep doing this,” García Alcántara told the Union Tribune. “I am also asking for a public apology from the person who did this. I’d like to know why he did this to me since I didn’t do anything to him.”

— “Officer Report for Incident 210006105” (Nogales: Nogales Police Department, June 16, 2021) https://www.dropbox.com/sh/4r5dzamxq8fjzon/AABmConSjaFosUR6BRgh88Ula?dl=0&preview=Exhibit+E+-+Nogales+PD+report.pdf&emci=4a0bacf1-b15d-ec11-94f6-0050f2e65e9b&emdi=50f09884-b35d-ec11-94f6-0050f2e65e9b&ceid=6137030.

— Eugene Iredale, “Claim for Damage, Injury, or Death” (San Diego: Iredale & Yoo A.P.C., December 9, 2021) https://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/alliancesandiego/pages/3292/attachments/original/1639508803/Claim_Form_95_Signed_and_Redacted.pdf?1639508803=&emci=4a0bacf1-b15d-ec11-94f6-0050f2e65e9b&emdi=50f09884-b35d-ec11-94f6-0050f2e65e9b&ceid=6137030.

— “Marisol García Alcantara was shot by Border Patrol then deported now filing a claim against CBP” (San Diego: Southern Border Communities Coalition, December 15, 2021) https://www.southernborder.org/marisol_garcia_alcantara_was_shot_by_border_patrol_then_deported_now_filing_a_claim_against_cbp.

— Nick Phillips, “Woman shot in head by Border Patrol seeks answers” (Nogales: Nogales International, October 8, 2021) https://www.nogalesinternational.com/news/woman-shot-in-head-by-border-patrol-seeks-answers/article_0aae589a-2843-11ec-8050-df7bb17fa8bc.html.

— Kate Morrissey, “Woman shot in head by Border Patrol agent files claim for damages” (San Diego, San Diego Union-Tribune, December 15, 2021) https://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/immigration/story/2021-12-15/woman-shot-border-patrol-agent-claim.

— Anita Snow, “Mexican woman shot in head by US Border Patrol files claim” (Phoenix: Associated Press, December 15, 2021) https://apnews.com/article/shootings-arizona-22a67bc78bde39e2087a1d5a6c32097d.

— “Marisol García Alcántara, la mexicana que sobrevivió a un disparo de la Patrulla Fronteriza (y ahora va a demandar a EE.UU.)” (BBC News Mundo, La Prensa Libre, May 11, 2022) https://www.prensalibre.com/internacional/bbc-news-mundo-internacional/marisol-garcia-alcantara-la-mexicana-que-sobrevivio-a-un-disparo-de-la-patrulla-fronteriza-y-ahora-va-a-demandar-a-ee-uu/.

Sector(s): Tucson

Agency(ies): Border Patrol, Critical Incident Teams

Event Type(s): Use of Force

Last Known Accountability Status: Lawsuit or Claim Filed, Under FBI Investigation, Under OPR Investigation

Victim Classification: Female, Mexico, Single Adult

June 16, 2021

A report from the Kino Border Initiative (KBI) and NETWORK included a Jamaican migrant’s account of violent treatment by Border Patrol agents at Nogales, Arizona’s DeConcini port of entry.

A Jamaican man entered the United States at a port of entry to ask for asylum and was immediately confronted by two Border Patrol agents who physically attacked him. They knocked him to the ground with a plastic barrier and began beating and punching him. One agent put his foot on his neck as he lay on the ground. The agents dragged him across concrete into an office at the port of entry. A third agent told the two that what they were doing was wrong. The other agents dismissed her objection. The Jamaican man was then handcuffed to a bench. Later, he was taken to another room where he was photographed and fingerprinted. When the agents asked why he was there, the Jamaican man said he was seeking asylum. The agents asked where he was from and when he said Jamaica. The agents said, “this is what a bunch of you have been doing (running into the port of entry), you are getting out of here.” They took him to the Mexican immigration office. His friends were in Mexico waiting to see if he got across successfully. The Mexican immigration officers took photos of all their passports and asked them to go to Kino Border Initiative.

KBI filed a June 24, 2021 complaint with the DHS Office on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL) and the CBP Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR). On August 6, 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, Tucson Field Office

Agency(ies): Border Patrol, Office of Field Operations

Event Type(s): Conditions of Arrest or Apprehension, Denial of Protection to Most Vulnerable, Use of Force

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

Victim Classification: Black, Jamaica, Single Adult

Mid-June, 2021

The Kino Border Initiative reported:

A family who attempted crossing in two different Border Patrol sectors reported insultingly dismissive treatment in every interaction they had with Border Patrol agents. Border Patrol agents repeatedly told them, “I don’t care about your problems,” laughed at them and ridiculed them. In one interaction, the agent reportedly said, “What a coincidence. All of you seem to be coming because someone wants to kill you. That’s not my problem.”

— “June 24 Update From KBI” (Nogales: Kino Border Initiative, June 24, 2021).

Sector(s): Tucson

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

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

Last Known Accountability Status: Shared with Congressional Oversight Committees, Unknown

Victim Classification: Family Unit

Mid-June, 2021

The Kino Border Initiative reported:

A woman fleeing with her children from domestic violence reported that Border Patrol agents laughed at one of her daughters when she told them she was crying because of the abuse she’d suffered. Once the family was taken to a Border Patrol station, another agent reportedly yelled at the mother after she had expressed that she could not return to her country for fear of further violence, saying “look, you’re here as a migrant. You didn’t have a reason for crossing into this country. You’re going back to your country as you arrived, or worse.”

— “June 24 Update From KBI” (Nogales: Kino Border Initiative, June 24, 2021).

Sector(s): Tucson

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

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

Last Known Accountability Status: Shared with Congressional Oversight Committees, Unknown

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

Mid-June, 2021

The Kino Border Initiative reported about the separation of a Honduran Garífuna family whose asylum claim had gained an exception to the Title 42 expulsion policy:

Last week, a Honduran father of 5 whose wife is 3 months pregnant was detained by ICE as he and his family were processed through the consortium process at the downtown Nogales port of entry. The father does not have any criminal history in the US, and Spanish is the family’s second language, as they are part of the Garífuna indigenous community in Honduras.

As the mother shared in her testimony at the interfaith #SaveAsylum event this week, when the father was separated from his family, the CBP officer assured his wife that he would only be detained a day or two, but he has now been separated from his family for over a week.

His wife, who is stranded waiting for her husband’s release at a shelter in Tucson with their 5 children, attempted to set an appointment to visit her husband at La Palma, but was unable to do so because the visitation phone system is all in English. She has not received any clarity about when her husband will be released, and a week after his detention had not been able to make any contact since she does not have money to put in his commissary.

— “June 24 Update From KBI” (Nogales: Kino Border Initiative, June 24, 2021).

Sector(s): Tucson Field Office

Agency(ies): ICE, Office of Field Operations

Event Type(s): Family Separation, Lying or Deliberate Misleading

Last Known Accountability Status: Shared with Congressional Oversight Committees, Unknown

Victim Classification: Black, Family Unit, Honduras, Indigenous

June 12, 2021

A report from the Kino Border Initiative (KBI) and NETWORK discussed rough treatment that a Guatemalan man said he received from Border Patrol agents who apprehended him in Arizona.

A Guatemalan man entered the United States through the desert with a group of several others. He encountered Border Patrol agents who tripped him, causing him to fall and injure his knee. His face was injured with thorns. He was in a lot of pain, and he asked for medical attention. The agents said they could not help him. They then forced him to walk for an hour in handcuffs. Then the agents drove him to the border station. He didn’t receive medical attention at the station. He was expelled from that station to Nogales, Sonora. Only after he arrived in Mexico did Kino facilitate medical attention.

KBI filed a June 22, 2021 complaint with the DHS Office on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL) and the CBP Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR). On August 6, 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): Conditions of Arrest or Apprehension, Denial of Medical Care, Use of Force

Last Known Accountability Status: Complaint Filed with CRCL, Shared with DHS OIG

Victim Classification: Guatemala, Medical Condition, Single Adult

June 10, 2021

Border Patrol agents pursued, for over 34 miles near Deming, New Mexico, two vehicles that failed to pull over. “At that point,” a CBP release reported (original link),

four undocumented migrants jumped from one of the moving vehicles on New Mexico State Road 146. While some BPAs [Border Patrol agents] stopped to render assistance, others continued to pursue the two vehicles which eventually stopped. Both drivers and their passengers were taken into custody by BPAs.

One of the four undocumented migrants who jumped from the moving vehicle, a female citizen of Ecuador, suffered head injuries and was eventually transferred to University Medical Center in El Paso, TX, where she was declared deceased by medical personnel on June 13, 2021.

— “U.S. Border Patrol Failure To Yield Incident” (Deming: U.S. Customs and Border Protection, June 15, 2021) https://www.cbp.gov/newsroom/speeches-and-statements/us-border-patrol-failure-yield-incident-0.

Sector(s): El Paso

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Vehicle Pursuit

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

Victim Classification: Ecuador, Female, Single Adult

Early June, 2021

The Kino Border Initiative reported:

While some migrants apprehended at night have reported being detained overnight and deported the following morning, one woman who arrived at our center reported that after turning herself in to Border Patrol in the desert, she was detained overnight then still released into Sonora the following night. By holding the woman overnight in a congregate setting and then expelling her over 24 hours later, Border Patrol makes it clear that nighttime expulsions are not, as they have claimed, for the purpose of avoiding the spread of COVID through prolonged detention in CBP custody.

— “June 10 Update From KBI” (Nogales: Kino Border Initiative, June 10, 2021).

Sector(s): Tucson

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Dangerous Deportation, Disregard of Public Health

Last Known Accountability Status: Shared with Congressional Oversight Committees, Unknown

Victim Classification: Female, Single Adult

Early June, 2021

The Kino Border Initiative reported:

One woman who traveled with her son and nephews said that the Border Patrol agent who found them yelled at them aggressively, refused to let them speak at all, and threatened to hand them over to the police when they tried to speak after she told them to “shut up.” They were also denied food while in custody.

— “June 10 Update From KBI” (Nogales: Kino Border Initiative, June 10, 2021).

Sector(s): Tucson

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Abusive Language, Denial of Food or Water

Last Known Accountability Status: Shared with Congressional Oversight Committees, Unknown

Victim Classification: Family Unit

Early June, 2021

The Kino Border Initiative reported:

A man arriving at our center reported watching from a distance as Border Patrol agents emptied the water bottles belonging to the apprehended members of his group. Dehydrated, he continued walking in the desert alone until he encountered another group of Border Patrol agents who physically assaulted him and mocked his dehydrated state, refusing to give him water until they arrived at a Border Patrol station.

— “June 10 Update From KBI” (Nogales: Kino Border Initiative, June 10, 2021).

Sector(s): Tucson

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Conditions of Arrest or Apprehension, Denial of Food or Water

Last Known Accountability Status: Shared with Congressional Oversight Committees, Unknown

Victim Classification: Single Adult

Early June, 2021

The Kino Border Initiative (KBI) reported:

A woman from Mexico and her four children, one of whom is a U.S. citizen, presented themselves at the port of entry and asked for asylum. The officers present informed them that they had to come to KBI to be granted asylum, when an NGO clearly has no such authority. Unbelievably, this is only one of multiple instances in which US authorities have told asylum seekers to come to KBI for asylum.

— “June 10 Update From KBI” (Nogales: Kino Border Initiative, June 10, 2021).

Sector(s): Tucson Field Office

Agency(ies): Office of Field Operations

Event Type(s): Denial of Protection to Most Vulnerable, Lying or Deliberate Misleading

Last Known Accountability Status: Shared with Congressional Oversight Committees, Unknown

Victim Classification: Family Unit, U.S. Citizen or Resident

May, 2021

A report from Human Rights First discussed the separation of an 19-year-old Venezuelan from the rest of her family at the border.

DHS separated a 19-year-old Venezuelan asylum seeker from her parents and younger brother in May 2021, who were paroled into the United States to apply for asylum. ICE then detained her for nearly two months at the Imperial Regional Detention Facility. The family fled Venezuela after the young woman was kidnapped and beaten by Venezuelan government agents and her brother murdered because of the family’s political opposition work. DHS denied a request for parole filed by her attorney in June 2021, according to Adam Howard, who assisted in representing her.

“I’m a Prisoner Here”: Biden Administration Policies Lock Up Asylum Seekers (New York: Human Rights First, April 21, 2022) https://www.humanrightsfirst.org/resource/i-m-prisoner-here-biden-administration-policies-lock-asylum-seekers.

Sector(s): Border-Wide

Agency(ies): CBP, ICE

Event Type(s): Family Separation

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: Family Unit, Venezuela

May 24, 2021

Video footage posted to Facebook, cited in a January 6, 2023 letter from three Democratic U.S. Senators to the Departments of Homeland Security and Justice, depicts a Border Patrol agent having a friendly, supportive conversation at a Texas checkpoint with members of a militia group, which the letter identifies as “Veterans on Patrol.” (Original link)

The unidentified Border Patrol agent tells the militia members:

You guys are very effective and a lot of fun. You can’t talk to every agent the way you talk to me. Maybe 90% of the people you can. We’ve got some strange f—ing ducks, man. When you talk about confiscating guns, they’re like [mocking voice] “yeah you should do it.”

The agent appears to accept the militia members’ offer of a memory card with drone footage on it. “I’ll pass this along to the right people,” he says.

“Citizens, I don’t mind anything you guys do,” the agent concludes. “Really, I’m telling you, dude. Whatever you do, man. … Hey, I appreciate it.”

(.mp3 file of audio excerpted from the video)

— “Arizona Southern Border Nightmare.” Dsw74News on Facebook, May 24, 2021. <https://www.facebook.com/DSW74/videos/arizona-southern-border-nightmare/142350517880294/.>

— Markey, Sen. Edward J., Sen. Elizabeth Warren, and Sen. Cory A. Booker. “Senators’ Letter to the Biden Administration on Vigilante Groups at the Southern U.S. Border,” January 6, 2023. <https://www.markey.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/senators_letter_to_the_biden_administration_on_vigilante_groups_at_the_southern_us_border_-_january_2023pdf.pdf>.

Sector(s): Border-Wide

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Vigilantism Tolerance or Collaboration

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification:

May 16, 2021

A report from the Kino Border Initiative (KBI) and NETWORK reported a Mexican asylum seeker’s allegations that CBP used violence during one of his several unsuccessful attempts to ask for protection at a Nogales, Arizona port of entry.

A Mexican man presented himself at the DeConcini Port of Entry seeking asylum several times over a period of two days. He received threats that made him believe his life was in danger and even survived an attempted kidnapping in Nogales.

On May 16, he ran toward the port of entry, near where cars were crossing because he was afraid of his pursuers. CBP officers apprehended him there. He was punched, kicked, and beaten by about twelve officers. He told them that he wanted asylum because there were people in Mexico who were trying to kill him. CBP did not give him an opportunity to talk to anyone else and he was immediately expelled back to Mexico.

CBP called the Mexican police, who never came. They then called the Mexican Red Cross to take him to the General Hospital of Nogales in Sonora. The hospital did not take care of his wounds.

When released from the hospital, he tried again to enter the United States at the port of entry because people were following him. He tried asking for asylum to the 9 agents who detained him. However, the agents told him he had no right to be in the United States and asked him to be silent. The agents then took him to a room and questioned him but did not ask him about asylum. He was then expelled back to Mexico again.

KBI filed a May 25, 2021 complaint with the DHS Office on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL) and the CBP Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR). On June 2, 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) https://networklobby.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/KINO-NETWORK-CBP-Abuses-consolidated.pdf.

Sector(s): Tucson Field Office

Agency(ies): Office of Field Operations

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

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

Victim Classification: Kidnap Victim, Mexico, Single Adult

May 14, 2021

Three Border Patrol agents shot 26-year-old San Diego resident Silvestre Vargas Estrada through the windshield of his car in Campo, California. Vargas Estrada was killed. Two passengers, believed to be Mexican men who had entered the country illegally, were not injured.

A release from the San Diego Sheriff’s Department reported:

Just before 10:30 p.m. on May 14, 2021, agents with the U.S. Border Patrol were involved in a pursuit with a vehicle containing three adult males. The pursuit ended in a gas station parking lot at the intersection of State Route 94 and Buckman Springs Road in Campo. A confrontation ensued, resulting in three agents discharging their firearms. The driver of the vehicle was struck by gunfire. The man was transported by ambulance to a local area hospital. Unfortunately, he was pronounced deceased shortly after arriving at the hospital (original link).

The Sheriff’s Department homicide unit was leading the investigation, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported on May 18, 2021. “The FBI, Department of Homeland Security Office of the Inspector General and U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Office of Professional Responsibility also responded to the scene and will review the investigation.”

It was the second Border Patrol-involved fatal shooting in the agency’s San Diego sector in six months. An agent shot and killed David Angel Villalobos-Baldovinos following a reported altercation on October 23, 2020.

— Thomas Seiver, “U.S. Border Patrol Agents Involved Shooting – Update 1” (San Diego: San Diego County Sheriff’s Department, May 18, 2021) https://www.sdsheriff.gov/Home/Components/News/News/384/16.

— Alex Riggins, “Authorities ID San Diego man shot, killed by Border Patrol agents” (San Diego, San Diego Union-Tribune, May 18, 2021) https://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/public-safety/story/2021-05-18/authorities-id-san-diego-man-shot-killed-by-border-patrol-agents.

Sector(s): San Diego

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Use of Force, Vehicle Pursuit

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

Victim Classification: Single Adult, U.S. Citizen or Resident

May 12, 2021

A report from the Border Network for Human Rights included the testimony of “M.A.,” who said she was invasively strip-searched by CBP Field Operations personnel at El Paso’s Santa Fe (Paso del Norte Bridge) Port of Entry.

My nightmare started on Wednesday, May 12, at 2:00 p.m., when I was coming over by the Paso del Norte Port of Entry. I was coming from Juárez because I had surgery on one eye. I had to wear special glasses.

The CBP officer started questioning me and asking me why I was so nervous. To which I responded, “I just had an eye surgery, and I can’t be without my glasses for long.” The CBP officer then asked if I had illegal drugs on me. I told her I had nothing on me. The CBP officer then sent me to get inspected in a room where they touched my whole body, including my private parts. I felt so bad and humiliated. I did not deserve to be treated that way. I felt like they took advantage of me; I felt so helpless.

The Border Network for Human Rights stated that it shared this and other testimonies in its February 2022 abuse monitoring report “with the agencies involved.”

The State of Human Rights at the U.S. – Mexico Border: Abuse Documentation 2022 Campaign Report (El Paso, Border Network for Human Rights, February 22, 2022) https://bnhr.org/abuse-documentation-2022-campaign-report/.

Sector(s): El Paso Field Office

Agency(ies): Office of Field Operations

Event Type(s): Wrongful Strip Search

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: Female, Single Adult, U.S. Citizen or Resident

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) https://networklobby.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/KINO-NETWORK-CBP-Abuses-consolidated.pdf.

Sector(s): Tucson

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

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

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

Victim Classification: Accompanied Child, Family Unit, Guatemala

Late April, 2021

The Kino Border Initiative reported:

A young Mexican man expelled under Title 42 this week reported to KBI that Border Patrol agents left them in downtown Nogales, Sonora around 2:30AM. The group was afraid to walk through town at night, so they waited outside by the port of entry without any protection from organized crime groups, which are known to patrol this area, for 4 hours until the sun came up.

— “April 29 Update From KBI” (Nogales: Kino Border Initiative, April 29, 2021).

Sector(s): Tucson

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Dangerous Deportation

Last Known Accountability Status: Shared with Congressional Oversight Committees, Unknown

Victim Classification: Mexico, Single Adult

Late April, 2021

The Kino Border Initiative reported:

This week a Honduran family of 3 was expelled to Nogales, Sonora at 8PM, when it was already dark. A Mexican police officer allowed them to come into their office and eat some food, and then advised that they walk to the shelter in the dark, which is about a two mile walk. As they walked, a police vehicle stopped them and offered them a ride, expressing their concern that a migrant family would walk through such a dangerous area at night.

— “April 29 Update From KBI” (Nogales: Kino Border Initiative, April 29, 2021).

Sector(s): Tucson

Agency(ies): CBP

Event Type(s): Dangerous Deportation

Last Known Accountability Status: Shared with Congressional Oversight Committees, Unknown

Victim Classification: Family Unit, Honduras