5 Records of Alleged Abusive or Improper Conduct in “Del Rio” where the event type is “Denial of Protection to Most Vulnerable”

June 16, 2022

On May 23, 2022, a District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals ruling went into effect prohibiting CBP personnel from using Title 42 to expel asylum-seeking families to places where they will be persecuted or tortured (original link). A June 16, 2022 report from Human Rights First, however, found examples of families who, “when they tried to express their fears of return, Border Patrol agents ignored their statements or refused to allow them to speak and failed to refer any for screening”:

Four asylum-seeking families, who were expelled under Title 42 to Ciudad Acuña on May 23, 2022, reported to Human Rights First researchers that Border Patrol agents refused to allow them to explain their fear of return to Mexico or their countries of origin and did not refer them for a fear screening before expelling them.

None of the approximately 50 Honduran and Salvadoran asylum-seeking families, who were interviewed by researchers from the Center for Gender and Refugee Studies (CGRS), had received a fear screening prior to being expelled to Reynosa in late May and early June 2022. According to CGRS’s Legal Director, Blaine Bookey, many families reported that when they attempted to explain their fear of return, Border Patrol officers said, for example, that asylum was not available and that they would only be taking fingerprints and photographs and ordered the families to stop attempting to communicate with the officers. Other families expressed that given harsh treatment and verbal abuse from Border Patrol agents, they were too afraid to even attempt to explain their fears of return. One family reported to Bookey that Border Patrol agents called them “invaders,” and other families reported the agents told them that if they were afraid to return to their country, they should arm themselves and fight the gangs.

— Julia Neusner, Kennji Kizuka, The Nightmare Continues: Title 42 Court Order Prolongs Human Rights Abuses, Extends Disorder at U.S. Borders (New York: Human Rights First, June 16, 2022) https://www.humanrightsfirst.org/resource/nightmare-continues-title-42-court-order-prolongs-human-rights-abuses-extends-disorder-us.

Sector(s): Del Rio, San Diego

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

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

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: El Salvador, Family Unit, Honduras

December 2021

A January 2022 Human Rights First report recounted the consequences of CBP officers’ repeated refusal to grant humanitarian parole to a 19-year-old Honduran woman with a high-risk pregnancy.

The woman who was eight-months pregnant and experiencing severe bleeding, had been denied medical treatment in Ciudad Acuña and attempted three times to enter the United States to seek protection. Each time she was expelled by DHS to Ciudad Acuña under Title 42. By the time CBP reversed its initial parole denial following advocacy by Charlene D’Cruz, an attorney with Lawyers for Good Government, the woman had disappeared and remains missing as of January 2022.

A Shameful Record: Biden Administration’s Use of Trump Policies Endangers People Seeking Asylum (New York: Human Rights First: January 13, 2022) https://www.humanrightsfirst.org/resource/shameful-record-biden-administration-s-use-trump-policies-endangers-people-seeking-asylum.

Sector(s): Del Rio, Laredo Field Office

Agency(ies): CBP

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

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: Female, Honduras, Medical Condition, Pregnancy, Single Adult

September 2021

Human Rights First reports:

In September 2021, DHS expelled an asylum-seeking Haitian family to Haiti after holding them for days in a freezing cell without sufficient food. DHS separated the family from an adult brother who had crossed into Del Rio, Texas with them where they had attempted to seek asylum together based on political persecution. The family remains in hiding in Haiti, terrified their persecutors will find them, according to Blaine Bookey from the UC Hastings Center for Gender & Refugee Studies.

— Julia Neusner, Kennji Kizuka, “Illegal and Inhumane”: Biden Administration Continues Embrace of Trump Title 42 Policy as Attacks on People Seeking Refuge Mount (New York: Human Rights First, October 21, 2021) https://www.humanrightsfirst.org/resource/illegal-and-inhumane-biden-administration-continues-embrace-trump-title-42-policy-attacks.

Sector(s): Del Rio

Agency(ies): Border Patrol, DHS

Event Type(s): Conditions in Custody, Denial of Food or Water, Denial of Protection to Most Vulnerable, Family Separation

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: Black, Family Unit, Haiti

Late September, 2021

“Belone Mpembele, an asylum seeker from Angola, was expelled to Haiti by the United States due to its failure to provide access to the U.S asylum system or even screen individuals at the border in its rush to expel Haitians in September 2021,” reported Human Rights First. The Guardian reported from Port-au-Prince that the Angolan migrant “had never set foot in Haiti. ‘I told them I am not Haitian,’ said Belone Mpembele, as he emerged, dazed, from the terminal. ‘But they didn’t listen.’”

— Julia Neusner, Kennji Kizuka, “Illegal and Inhumane”: Biden Administration Continues Embrace of Trump Title 42 Policy as Attacks on People Seeking Refuge Mount (New York: Human Rights First, October 21, 2021) https://www.humanrightsfirst.org/resource/illegal-and-inhumane-biden-administration-continues-embrace-trump-title-42-policy-attacks.

— Joe Parkin Daniels, “‘They treated us like animals’: Haitians angry and in despair at being deported from US” (Port-au-Prince: The Guardian, September 26, 2021) https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2021/sep/26/they-treated-us-like-animals-haitians-angry-and-in-despair-at-being-deported-from-us.

Sector(s): Del Rio

Agency(ies): Border Patrol, DHS

Event Type(s): Denial of Protection to Most Vulnerable, Inappropriate Deportation

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: Angola, Black

Mid-September, 2021

A March 2022 report from Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights and the Haitian Bridge Alliance found that DHS officials often lied to Haitian migrants about the destination of what turned out to be Title 42 expulsion flights, following a September 2021 mass migration event in Del Rio, Texas.

In the process of these expulsions, DHS officials reportedly made misleading statements to migrants, telling them that they were being flown to other locations within the United States for processing when, in reality, they were being expelled to Haiti. Because officers lied about where asylum seekers were being taken, some expelled individuals did not realize they had been sent to Haiti until they got off the plane.

Beyond the Bridge: Documented Human Rights Abuses and Civil Rights Violations Against Haitian Migrants in the Del Rio, Texas Encampment (United States: Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights and Haitian Bridge Alliance, March 29, 2022) https://rfkhr.imgix.net/asset/Del-Rio-Report.pdf.

Sector(s): Del Rio

Agency(ies): DHS

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

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: Black, Haiti