210 Records of Alleged Abusive or Improper Conduct in “Border Patrol”

October 4, 2022

Border Patrol agents shot and killed a Mexican migrant inside the Ysleta Border Patrol station in eastern El Paso, Texas. Manuel González Morán, a 33-year-old man from Ciudad Juárez, was shot twice and pronounced dead at an El Paso hospital.

According to CBP’s release, dated October 15, 2022 (original link):

The man exited a detention cell, forced his way past an agent, and got a pair of scissors from a desk in the migrant processing area. Agents issued verbal commands, and one agent deployed an Electronic Control Weapon, which had no effect on the man. The man advanced towards two other agents with the scissors in his hand and two agents discharged their firearms, striking the assailant which successfully stopped his advance.

Agents reportedly sought to subdue González by firing a taser at him, with no apparent result. An agent or agents then shot González at close range. One bullet grazed his arm, another pierced his temple.

“A security camera in the room was not functioning at the time of the incident,” a “person with knowledge of the investigation” told the Washington Post. CBP’s Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) “is obtaining more information regarding the operational history of the station’s video recording system,” the agency reported.

The FBI is investigating the incident, along with OPR. The DHS Office of Inspector-General was notified, and CBP’s National Use of Force Review Board will review the incident.

The FBI’s October 5, 2022 statement noted, “In 2011, Moran was arrested by the Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office in Pueblo, Colorado, on charges of attempted first-degree murder and was convicted of assault with a deadly weapon resulting in serious bodily injury. In May of 2022, Moran was paroled after serving 11-years of his 17-year sentence and was removed from the U.S. to Mexico.” (Original link)

— “Border Patrol Agents Fatally Shoot Apprehended Man after He Arms Himself, Ignores Commands and Advances towards Agents.” U.S. Customs and Border Protection, October 15, 2022. <https://www.cbp.gov/newsroom/speeches-and-statements/border-patrol-agents-fatally-shoot-apprehended-man-after-he-arms>.

— Miroff, Nick. “Border Agents Fired Fatal Shots after Migrant Grabbed Weapon, FBI Says.” Washington Post, October 6, 2022. <https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2022/10/04/border-patrol-agent-fatally-shoots-migrant-us-custody/>.

— “FBI Investigative Update on the U.S. Border Patrol Agent Involved Shooting at Ysleta Border Patrol Station.” Federal Bureau of Investigation, October 5, 2022. https://www.fbi.gov/contact-us/field-offices/elpaso/news/press-releases/fbi-investigative-update-on-the-us-border-patrol-agent-involved-shooting-at-ysleta-border-patrol-station.

Sector(s): El Paso

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Use of Force

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

Victim Classification: Mexico, Single Adult

October 3, 2022

A coalition of Arizona-based groups led by ACLU Arizona sent a letter to CBP Commissioner Chris Magnus, summarized by the Border Chronicle, asking his agency to cease the practice of requiring asylum-seeking migrants to relinquish their personal belongings, which often get discarded.

The letter’s appendix includes numerous examples, from Border Patrol’s Tucson and Yuma sectors, of items taken from migrants. Among them:

  • Turbans confiscated from Sikh asylum seekers, denounced earlier in an August 1 letter from ACLU of Arizona. Through September 2022, the organizations had “documented at least 95 cases in which Arizona Border Patrol agents confiscated and did not replace turbans from members of the Sikh faith.”
  • Prayer rugs that migrants were forced to abandon, “sometimes in dumpsters. One of these individuals had to discard a prayer rug that had been in their family for over a hundred years.”
  • Several cases of rosaries and bibles, including “multi-generational family bibles,” that migrants were forced to deposit in dumpsters.
  • 42 cases of vital medications confiscated and not replaced between November 2021 and September 2022, including “those for HIV, high blood pressure, diabetes (types 1 and 2), and epilepsy. Agents also took migrants’ asthma inhalers and prenatal and hormonal vitamins from women with high-risk pregnancies. Most of the individuals whose medications for high blood pressure and diabetes were confiscated were released to shelter providers with (sometimes extremely) elevated blood pressure and blood sugar levels.”
  • “At least 15 separate instances in which elderly individuals were forced by Border Patrol agents in Arizona to abandon medical assistive devices, such as wheelchairs, walkers, and canes.”
  • Reports, received by a New Mexico shelter provider, that El Paso Border Patrol Sector agents were seizing “critical medications and medical devices, such as epi-pens and inhalers.”
  • In Border Patrol’s Rio Grande Valley Sector, “The National Butterfly Center (located in Mission, Texas) has found photo identification, birth certificates, and bank account information at its facility or on the perimeter, where migrants are often apprehended. The organization has collected at least ten sets of identification documents in the last year alone. Other advocates who operate in the Rio Grande Valley Sector report finding discarded police reports, medical records, passports, immigration papers, and other documents that could be vital to substantiating an asylum claim.”
  • Between January and October 2022, “A New Mexico shelter provider that receives migrants from El Paso Sector Border Patrol reports that Border Patrol has sometimes confiscated cellphones and either not returned them or returned them in damaged condition.”
  • Between May and September 2022, the Nogales-based Kino Border Initiative “encountered at least 29 cases in which migrants’ cell phones were confiscated by Arizona Border Patrol agents.”
  • In March 2022, the AZ-CA Humanitarian Coalition “encountered several families who were forced by Border Patrol agents to discard their children’s toys and stuffed animals with their children in line-of-sight.”

— Several Arizona Non-Governmental Human Rights Groups. “Letter to CBP Regarding Treatment of Migrants’ Personal Belongings,” October 3, 2022. <https://www.acluaz.org/sites/default/files/2022.10.03_letter_to_cbp_regarding_treatment_of_migrants_personal_belongings.pdf>.

Sector(s): El Paso, Rio Grande Valley, Tucson, Yuma

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Confiscation of Documents, Non-Return of Belongings

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification:

September 29, 2022

A report from the DHS Inspector-General praises Border Patrol’s Del Rio Sector’s handling of migrants’ personal property. The sector’s Eagle Pass processing facility uses “a bar-coded wristband system to track the handling, retention, retrieval, and return,” along with “requirements to communicate with detainees about their property while in custody and at their eventual departure.” (Original link) The system was first implemented in February 2022 “to supplement Border Patrol Headquarters’ April 2021 national guidance on managing the personal property of detainees.”

This system, however, is unique to Eagle Pass: CBP does not plan to expand it throughout the sector, the Inspector-General reports. “Although it is possible that several other stations can implement the same procedures associated with the handling and storage of property, due to its dependence on individual station resources, CBP believes that the assignment of volunteers and caregivers to this specific task at all stations sector-wide in DRT [Del Rio Sector] is not practicable.”

— “Del Rio Area Struggled With Prolonged Detention, Consistent Compliance With CBP’s TEDS Standards, and Data Integrity.” Washington: Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General, September 22, 2022. <https://www.oig.dhs.gov/sites/default/files/assets/2022-10/OIG-22-80-Oct22.pdf>.

Sector(s): Del Rio

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Non-Return of Belongings

Last Known Accountability Status: DHS OIG investigation Closed

Victim Classification:

September 15, 2022

Fronteras Desk interviewed Yuma, Arizona-based advocate Fernando Quiroz, who monitors Border Patrol apprehensions of asylum-seeking migrants in the Yuma Sector. Quiroz discussed Border Patrol’s widely denounced confiscation of migrants’ belongings in the sector.

They [hundreds of migrants per day] bring backpacks, clothes, supplies, toys, money, important documents, and starting last year, Quiroz says much of it was being thrown in the trash when they were taken into custody. He took pictures of entire dumpsters filled with their belongings and he asked Border Patrol about it.

“They would say, ‘We here at this Yuma sector, we are not travel agents. We do not have the manpower, we don’t have the people, we don’t have the storage and it’s also a safety issue for us for these individuals to carry their backpacks or their belongings into our sector,’” Quiroz said. “So every single one, imagine every single day, from 400 to 1,000 individuals who are told, ‘Throw your backpack in the trash.’ It is heartbreaking. It typically is very heartbreaking. We’re talking about — this is all they have.”

…“I have here things that I have collected of individuals that have thrown in the trash, from prayer rugs to Bibles to Qurans to religious artifacts. It is sad,” Quiroz said.

— Lauren Gilger. “Border Patrol Made Migrants Throw Away Backpacks, Passports, Birth Certificates.” Fronteras Desk, September 15, 2022. <https://fronterasdesk.org/content/1810080/border-patrol-made-migrants-throw-away-backpacks-passports-birth-certificates>.

Sector(s): Yuma

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Non-Return of Belongings

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification:

September 1, 2022

“The Border Patrol’s San Diego Sector has a new challenge coin that features concertina wire around the Border Patrol’s badge,” wrote Pedro Rios, of the American Friends Service Committee’s U.S.-Mexico Border Program, at the San Diego Union-Tribune. “In its description on its website, it says the concertina wire symbolizes ‘a new way of thinking about border security in San Diego.’” Rios added, “That the Border Patrol would promote coils of razor-sharp wires made for a battlefield as its emblem to display its philosophy is concerning.”

On September 3, CBP removed the challenge coin from the Border Patrol Sector’s website. “That challenge coin is not in keeping with the agency’s mission and values, and we are reviewing the process by which it was produced and displayed on our website,” read a statement from CBP Commissioner Chris Magnus.

The “challenge coins” issue had come up earlier in 2022, when reports emerged of unofficial coins being sold online with defiant messages, some celebrating a controversial incident involving mounted Border Patrol agents and Haitian migrants in September 2021.

— Pedro Rios, “The Border Patrol emblem promotes razor-sharp wires made for a battlefield. Why is it allowed?” (San Diego: San Diego Union-Tribune, September 1, 2022) <https://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/community-voices-project/story/2022-09-01/the-border-patrol-emblem-promotes-coils-of-razor-sharp-wires-made-for-a-battlefield>.

— Pedro Rios @Pedroconsafos on Twitter, September 3, 2022 <https://twitter.com/Pedroconsafos/status/1566199248818843648>.

Internet Archive copy of “San Diego Sector California” (Washington: U.S. Customs and Border Protection, July 25, 2022) <https://web.archive.org/web/20220827001221/https://www.cbp.gov/border-security/along-us-borders/border-patrol-sectors/san-diego-sector-california>.

Sector(s): San Diego

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Insubordinate or Highly Politicized Conduct

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification:

Late August, 2022

The Nogales-based Kino Border Initiative reported a case of Border Patrol agents’ non-return of a Mexican migrant’s belongings.

BP apprehended Ronel [name changed to protect privacy] and brought him to Florence, AZ to be detained. BP agents took all of his belongings- his cell phone, money, and legal documents- and did not return them upon his deportation. Ronel was thus stranded in Nogales, Sonora without any identification, money or way to contact his family. 

— “September 1 update from KBI” (Nogales: Kino Border Initiative, September 1, 2022).

Sector(s): Tucson

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Confiscation of Documents, Non-Return of Belongings

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: Mexico, Single Adult

Late August, 2022

The Nogales-based Kino Border Initiative reported a case of Border Patrol agents’ non-return of a Mexican migrant’s belongings and identification documents.

BP apprehend Brayan [name changed to protect privacy] and confiscated all his personal belongings- $1,800 pesos ($89 USD), a chain with a diamond ring that his father had given to him, a Bible, the keys to his home, his cell phone with all of his contacts, his Mexican IDs, and birth certificate. BP thus deported Brayan to Nogales, Sonora without any of the resources necessary to return home and without the personal items with sentimental value that had helped sustain him in his journey.

— “September 1 update from KBI” (Nogales: Kino Border Initiative, September 1, 2022).

Sector(s): Tucson

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Confiscation of Documents, Non-Return of Belongings

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: Mexico, Single Adult

Late August, 2022

The Nogales-based Kino Border Initiative reported a case of Border Patrol agents’ non-return and destruction of a Mexican migrant’s belongings and identification documents.

When BP apprehended Samuel [name changed to protect privacy], agents confiscated all his belongings. They took his phone and removed the SIM card and pocketed it, took his wallet that had $300 in it and removed the credit cards and pocketed them as well. They ripped up his birth certificate in front of him.The agents were speaking in English amongst themselves, so he couldn’t understand what they were saying. He was only able to save his Mexican ID because he had previously hid it in his shoe.

— “September 1 update from KBI” (Nogales: Kino Border Initiative, September 1, 2022).

Sector(s): Tucson

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Confiscation of Documents, Non-Return of Belongings

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: Mexico, Single Adult

Early August, 2022

“In the past 2 weeks, Kino has served 16 people that DHS has deported between 12 am and 3 am,” the Nogales, Arizona-based Kino Border Initiative (KBI) reported on August 18.

Esmeralda [name changed to protect privacy] fled violence in Nicaragua and entered the US to request asylum, she was forced to wait in Mexico under MPP, due to the dangers and inhuman conditions on the Mexican northeast border, she tried to request asylum again in Arizona,  Border Patrol expelled her to Nogales at midnight, upon which Mexican police robbed her. 

— “August 18 Update from KBI” (Nogales: Kino Border Initiative, August 18, 2022).

Sector(s): Tucson

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Dangerous Deportation

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: Female, Nicaragua, Single Adult

Early August, 2022

“In the past 2 weeks, Kino has served 16 people that DHS has deported between 12 am and 3 am,” the Nogales, Arizona-based Kino Border Initiative (KBI) reported on August 18.

Julia [name changed to protect privacy] and her 7 year old daughter fled Guerrero due to threats of sexual violence toward herself and her daughter. When they crossed into the US, BP detained them and Julia explained she wanted to seek asylum due to violence in Mexico. But BP just took their bio information, without asking further inquiring about their fear, and deported them to Mexico at 3 a.m., placing Julia and her daughter in danger of potentially experiencing the very sexual violence they were fleeing. 

— “August 18 Update from KBI” (Nogales: Kino Border Initiative, August 18, 2022).

Sector(s): Tucson

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Dangerous Deportation

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: Accompanied Child, Family Unit, Female, Mexico

August 9, 2022

A DHS Inspector-General report, based on seven October 2021 unannounced inspections of El Paso-area CBP facilities, found Border Patrol holding hundreds of migrants in custody for longer than the normal 72-hour limit, despite a lack of overcrowding (original link). In addition, “Border Patrol held some migrants placed for expulsion under Title 42 authorities for longer than 14 days, which is inconsistent with Border Patrol policy,” and CBP was “inconsistent” in its separation of juveniles from unrelated adults in custody.

El Paso Sector Border Patrol Struggled with Prolonged Detention and Consistent Compliance with TEDS Standards (Washington: Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector-General, August 9, 2022) https://www.oig.dhs.gov/sites/default/files/assets/2022-08/OIG-22-57-Aug22.pdf.

Sector(s): El Paso, El Paso Field Office

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

Event Type(s): Conditions in Custody

Last Known Accountability Status: DHS OIG investigation Closed

Victim Classification:

August 3, 2022

Arizona Luminaria recounted the mistreatment of a Sikh asylum seeker who turned himself in to Yuma Sector Border Patrol agents.

On Aug. 3, a Sikh asylum-seeker crossed the border along with his wife and two young children near Yuma to turn themselves in to Border Patrol, according to Ahluwalia. After waiting more than 12 hours near the border wall, they were finally bused to the nearby station for processing.

After waiting all day in the sun — with the parents taking turns holding their young children, ages 2 and 4 — the man was feeling weak and ill, and was beginning to struggle to breathe. He was given water and allowed to sit down as two officers, one of whom he described as rude and aggressive ordered him to remove his turban, according to Ahluwalia.

He explained that he was happy to take it off and let them search it, but he wanted it back afterward. The officers took it off, took photos of him with his hair loose, and confiscated the turban. He said he felt humiliated.

As the processing continued, he told the officers he was feeling worse. They pressured him into signing paperwork he didn’t understand, telling him, “You need to sign this,” in a manner he felt was threatening, according to the case notes. They accused him of pretending to be sick, and one officer pulled him to his feet, pushed him against the wall, and handcuffed him.

His wife, who witnessed the aggression, began crying. When he tried to console her and his children, speaking to them in Punjabi, the officer who handcuffed him said, “You need to speak f—ing English,” he later told his attorney.

The officer then escorted him to a small solitary confinement cell and left him alone. He was in the room for a few hours, during which he threw up two to three times. Though he said there were cameras in the room, and he was banging on the door for help, nobody came. Finally, about three hours later, he was taken back to his family and an officer unshackled him.

He asked multiple times if he could have his turban back, according to Ahluwalia, but he never saw it again. He also repeatedly asked for medical attention, but was denied, with an officer explaining to him that he had already been given Tylenol. Four or five days later, after he was released, a volunteer at a welcome center in Tucson gave him cloth to cover his head.

“I wanted to cry,” he told his attorney. At the welcome center he tested positive for COVID-19, he told Ahluwalia.

— Washington, John. “Border Patrol Has New Orders Not to Trash Sikh Turbans but Isn’t Sharing Guidance Publicly, Advocates Say.” AZ Luminaria, September 19, 2022. <http://azluminaria.org/2022/09/19/border-patrol-now-instructing-agents-to-stop-taking-sikh-turbans/>.

Sector(s): Yuma

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Non-Return of Belongings, Religious Freedom Violation

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: Family Unit, Sikh

August 1, 2022

A letter from the ACLU of Arizona, first covered by the Intercept and Arizona Luminaria, contended that Border Patrol agents in Yuma had confiscated at least 64 turbans from asylum seekers of the Sikh faith so far this year, including at least 50 in the prior 2 months.

These, the letter argues, are “serious religious-freedom violations” against members of the world’s fifth-largest organized religion, most prevalent in India’s Punjab region. “Forcibly removing or targeting a Sikh’s turban or facial hair has symbolized denying that person the right to belong to the Sikh faith and is perceived by many as the most humiliating and hurtful physical and spiritual injury that can be inflicted upon a Sikh,” the letter notes.

Citing interns at an Arizona migrant shelter, Arizona Luminaria reported on August 5 that “the number of turbans confiscated and discarded by Border Patrol is in the hundreds, far beyond the number reported earlier this week.”

CBP often faces allegations of throwing away migrants’ personal belongings. The ACLU letter called it a “universal, well-documented, and recurring practice by agents in the Yuma Border Patrol Sector of forcing apprehended migrants to discard nearly all of their personal property in advance of processing.” The Intercept adds: “Word has begun circulating among those seeking asylum in the Yuma area: Border Patrol is forcing everyone to throw away all personal belongings, except for cellphones, wallets, and travel documents.”

CBP officials told the Washington Post that “they have recently reminded Border Patrol supervisors that agency policies require agents to exercise care when handling ‘personal property items of a religious nature.’” The Border Patrol’s Tucson sector chief told advocates that agents “were being retrained,” according to the Intercept, and CBP Commissioner Chris Magnus said in a statement cited by the Post that the agency has opened an internal investigation.

In an August 17 update on this story, “the national Sikh Coalition and the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona told Arizona Luminaria they are aware of at least 12 new cases of turban confiscation this month alone” in Arizona.

“There are good agents and bad ones,” Fernando Quiroz, a Yuma-based volunteer with the AZ-CA Humanitarian Coalition, told the Border Chronicle. “Some can care less that there’s been a policy change.”

On September 19, 2022, Arizona Luminaria reported that CBP had issued new interim guidance instructing Border Patrol agents to stop confiscating Sikh asylum seekers’ turbans. “When for security reasons agents need to inspect the turban, the interim guidance requires that they subsequently return it to the Sikh person.” The agency did not make this temporary order public; it went into effect on August 6 and CBP shared it with ACLU Arizona and the Sikh Coalition on September 6.

“Whistleblowers working with a Tucson agency that aids migrants and refugees also shared accounts of Border Patrol agents verbally harassing Sikh asylum seekers and denying them their religiously required diets,” Arizona Luminaria added.

— Noah Schramm, Vanessa Pineda, Heather L. Weaver, Daniel Mach, “ACLU of Arizona Letter on Border Patrol Confiscating Sikhs’ Turbans” (Arizona: DocumentCloud, August 1, 2022) https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/22125092-aclu-of-arizona-letter-on-border-patrol-confiscating-sikhs-turbans.

— John Washington, “Border Patrol Agents Are Trashing Sikh Asylum-Seekers’ Turbans” (Arizona: Arizona Luminaria, The Intercept, August 2, 2022) https://theintercept.com/2022/08/02/sikh-turban-border-patrol/.

— Angela Cordoba Perez, “’I Understood His Pain’: Advocates Denounce Confiscating Belongings From Migrants at Border” (Phoenix: The Arizona Republic, August 5, 2022) https://www.azcentral.com/story/news/politics/immigration/2022/08/05/asylum-advocates-denounce-confiscating-belongings-from-migrants-at-border/10230819002/.

— John Washington, “Whistleblowers say Arizona Border Patrol practice of trashing Sikh turbans is widespread” (Arizona: Arizona Luminaria, August 5, 2022) https://azluminaria.org/2022/08/05/whistleblowers-say-arizona-border-patrol-practice-of-trashing-sikh-turbans-is-widespread/.

— Nick Miroff, “Border Officials Investigating Claims Sikh Turbans Were Confiscated” (Washington: The Washington Post, August 3, 2022) https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2022/08/03/border-patrol-turban-yuma/.

— John Washington, “Despite Border Patrol leader’s promise to stop, Congress members call out agents still confiscating Sikh asylum-seekers’ turbans” (Arizona: Arizona Luminaria, August 17, 2022) https://azluminaria.org/2022/08/17/congress-members-call-out-border-patrol-agents-still-confiscating-sikh-asylum-seekers-turbans/.

— Melissa del Bosque, “A New Campaign to Get the Border Patrol to Stop Trashing Asylum Seekers’ Possessions” (United States: The Border Chronicle, August 16, 2022) https://www.theborderchronicle.com/p/a-new-campaign-to-get-the-border.

— Washington, John. “Border Patrol Has New Orders Not to Trash Sikh Turbans but Isn’t Sharing Guidance Publicly, Advocates Say.” AZ Luminaria, September 19, 2022. <http://azluminaria.org/2022/09/19/border-patrol-now-instructing-agents-to-stop-taking-sikh-turbans/>.

Sector(s): Yuma

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Non-Return of Belongings, Religious Freedom Violation

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

Victim Classification: Sikh

Late July, 2022

The Nogales, Arizona-based Kino Border Initiative (KBI) reported on August 4 that “Walter [name changed to protect privacy], a gay man from El Salvador, recently arrived at Kino after surviving an attempted murder in his country.”

On his journey, the coyote abandoned him in the desert, where he wandered alone until he was able to find BP and present himself to seek asylum. Despite explaining his situation, showing the scars from the murder attempt and explaining that he would be killed if he had to return to El Salvador, BP [Border Patrol] expelled him to Mexico.

— “August 4 update from KBI” (Nogales: Kino Border Initiative, August 4, 2022).

Sector(s): Tucson

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

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

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: El Salvador, LGBTQ, Single Adult

Late July, 2022

On August 4, 2022, the Nogales, Arizona-based Kino Border Initiative (KBI) reported a significant case of non-return of migrants’ valuable belongings:

Last weekend, ICE deported a group of 12 migrants to Nogales after being detained. Every person reported that upon their encounter with BP, agents took away all their belongings and said they would return them upon arriving in Tucson, which never happened. When they arrived in Nogales, their belongings still had not been returned. Items confiscated included money (one individual lost $200 USD), wallets, phones, and jewelry with sentimental value. One person from the group shared that he witnessed a Border Patrol agent take $3,000 pesos [about US$150] from another migrant and rip it up in his face saying, “This is trash, this is of no value to you here,” before throwing the ripped bills in the trash can.

— “August 4 update from KBI” (Nogales: Kino Border Initiative, August 4, 2022).

Sector(s): Tucson

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Non-Return of Belongings

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: Mexico

Late July, 2022

On August 4, 2022, the Nogales, Arizona-based Kino Border Initiative (KBI) reported the case of a migrant who had precious belongings taken from him in Border Patrol custody:

BP [Border Patrol] took Miguel’s* [name changed for privacy reasons] clothes, underwear, Mexican ID, phone, Bible and rosary. His phone contained all his family members’ phone numbers, as well as family photos. Upon deportation, he wasn’t able to contact his family until he borrowed someone else’s phone to search for them on Facebook. Though he was eventually able to make contact, he will never get his family photos back. He commented to KBI staff that although a rosary may not be of much value to some people, his faith sustained him during the journey.

— “August 4 update from KBI” (Nogales: Kino Border Initiative, August 4, 2022).

Sector(s): Tucson

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Non-Return of Belongings

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: Mexico, Single Adult

Late July, 2022

On August 4, 2022, the Nogales, Arizona-based Kino Border Initiative (KBI) reported the consequences of Border Patrol taking a migrant’s mobile phone away from him in custody, and deporting him without it.

BP confiscated Jose’s* [name changed for privacy reasons] phone when they detained him and did not return it when they deported him to Nogales, Mexico. Since he did not have any family phone number memorized, when he arrived in Nogales, Jose had no way of contacting his family to let them know he is okay or to ask that they send money so he can return home. Although staff at Kino spent about a half hour helping José look on Facebook to try to find a family member, they could not find anyone, leaving Jose stranded in Nogales without the ability to contact family members.

Although KBI collaborates with local organizations and consulates to assist expelled individuals recover their personal belongings, when migrants’ phones are confiscated and not returned to them, it prevents Kino and other border organizations from following up with them and can prevent migrants themselves from looking up contact info for relatives or neighbors to whom their belongings can be sent.

— “August 4 update from KBI” (Nogales: Kino Border Initiative, August 4, 2022).

Sector(s): Tucson

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Non-Return of Belongings

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: Single Adult

July 2022

According to an October 3, 2022 letter from a coalition of Arizona-based groups led by ACLU Arizona to CBP Commissioner Chris Magnus, the AZ-CA Humanitarian Coalition “encountered an Afro-Cuban migrant whose religious artifact (a small figurine of significance in the Lukumí faith) was confiscated by Arizona Border Patrol agents.”

— Several Arizona Non-Governmental Human Rights Groups. “Letter to CBP Regarding Treatment of Migrants’ Personal Belongings,” October 3, 2022. <https://www.acluaz.org/sites/default/files/2022.10.03_letter_to_cbp_regarding_treatment_of_migrants_personal_belongings.pdf>.

Sector(s): Yuma

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Non-Return of Belongings

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: Black, Cuba

July 2022

An October 3, 2022 letter from a coalition of Arizona-based groups, led by ACLU Arizona, to CBP Commissioner Chris Magnus, reports that the AZ-CA Humanitarian Coalition “encountered a man whose new laptop was confiscated by Border Patrol agents in Arizona. The laptop contained legal evidence for his asylum claim as well as all of his family photos.”

— Several Arizona Non-Governmental Human Rights Groups. “Letter to CBP Regarding Treatment of Migrants’ Personal Belongings,” October 3, 2022. <https://www.acluaz.org/sites/default/files/2022.10.03_letter_to_cbp_regarding_treatment_of_migrants_personal_belongings.pdf>.

Sector(s): Tucson, Yuma

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Non-Return of Belongings

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: Single Adult

July 28, 2022

The Dallas Morning News reported that Border Patrol agents appeared to be fabricating information on asylum seekers’ entry paperwork. It cited an egregious case, in the Rio Grande Valley sector, of a two-year-old toddler whose form read that he told agents he intended to travel to Dallas “to seek employment” and did not fear being returned to El Salvador.

Falsifying information on intake forms can mean swift deportation for protection-seeking migrants subject to the expedited removal process. “Immigration attorneys say instances like this aren’t uncommon and are part of a wave of expedited removals,” the Morning News reported.

— Dianne Solis, “Border agents deny entry to migrants based on interviews lawyers say are fiction” (Dallas: Dallas Morning News, July 28, 2022) https://www.dallasnews.com/news/immigration/2022/07/28/border-agents-deny-entry-to-migrants-based-on-interviews-lawyers-say-are-fiction/.

Sector(s): Rio Grande Valley

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Compelling Signature of English-Language Documents, Falsification or Negligent Handling of Asylum Paperwork

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: Accompanied Child, El Salvador

July 27, 2022

A letter from the ACLU of New Mexico and ACLU of Texas called for an investigation of a July 27 vehicle crash in Santa Teresa, New Mexico that killed two Mexican citizens and injured nine others. While Border Patrol was pursuing the vehicle before it crashed in the pre-dawn hours of the 27th, the agency reported that it had discontinued its chase, and that the driver lost control, flipping the vehicle.

Two Mexican citizen brothers, who were allegedly seeking to smuggle eleven migrants, face federal and state charges as a result of the incident; one said that the criminal organization that hired him had ordered him “not to stop if law enforcement attempted to pull him over.”

Border Patrol agents stand accused of a pattern of engaging in dangerous vehicle pursuits, at times in populated areas, with increasingly frequent fatalities. “There have already been 17 deaths this year due to Border Patrol vehicle pursuits, while there were 23 last year – an 11-fold increase since 2019,” the ACLU letter noted, urging CBP Commissioner Chris Magnus not to allow agents to employ Title 42 to expel any of the “victim-witnesses.”

— Rebecca Sheff, Shaw Drake, “Border Patrol’s Deadly Vehicle Pursuit on July 27, 2022 in Santa Teresa, NM” (New Mexico, Texas, ACLU of New Mexico, ACLU of Texas, July 27, 2022) https://www.aclu-nm.org/sites/default/files/field_documents/2022.07.27_aclu_letter_to_cbp_re_santa_teresa_vehicle_pursuit.pdf.

— Cindy Ramirez, “ACLU again questions Border Patrol pursuits, investigations after rollover leaves 2 dead” (El Paso: El Paso Matters, July 29, 2022) https://elpasomatters.org/2022/07/29/two-dead-in-santa-teresa-new-mexico-rollover-crash-after-border-patrol-pursuit/.

— Julian Resendiz, “Cartel to driver in fatal crash: Don’t stop for Border Patrol” (El Paso: Border Report, August 2, 2022) https://www.borderreport.com/immigration/border-crime/cartel-to-driver-in-fatal-crash-dont-stop-for-border-patrol/.

— “Two die in vehicle accident transporting undocumented migrants in New Mexico” (Washington: U.S. Customs and Border Protection, August 6, 2022) https://www.cbp.gov/newsroom/speeches-and-statements/two-die-vehicle-accident-transporting-undocumented-migrants-new.

Sector(s): El Paso

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Vehicle Pursuit

Last Known Accountability Status: Shared with DHS OIG, Under ICE-HSI Investigation, Under Local Police investigation, Under OPR Investigation

Victim Classification:

July 26, 2022

A Border Patrol vehicle pursuit ended in a crash, with no fatalities, in Chula Vista, southeast of San Diego, when agents deployed a spike strip, popping a vehicle’s tires and causing its driver to veer off the road.

“The driver and front passenger were both male U.S. citizens under 18 years old,” the San Diego Union-Tribune reported. “The other five occupants, four men and one woman, were adult Mexican citizens who were in the U.S. illegally, authorities said.”

— Angelina Hicks, “Border Patrol pursuit of suspected human smugglers ends in crash in Chula Vista” (San Diego: San Diego Union-Tribune, July 27, 2022) https://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/public-safety/story/2022-07-27/border-patrol-pursuit-of-suspected-human-smugglers-ends-in-crash-in-chula-vista.

Sector(s): San Diego

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Vehicle Pursuit

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: Female, Single Adult

Mid-July, 2022

Though a May 23, 2022 District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals ruling prohibited CBP personnel from using Title 42 to expel asylum-seeking families to places where they will be persecuted or tortured (original link), the practice continues.

The Nogales, Arizona-based Kino Border Initiative (KBI) reported the case of a Guatemalan family that was separated in Border Patrol custody after being denied a chance to ask for asylum:

Maribel [name changed to protect privacy], her husband and their 6-month-old baby fled Guatemala and presented themselves to Border Patrol near Sasabe, AZ to request asylum. The BP agent told them they would have a chance to ask for asylum later, but they were never given an opportunity to explain their situation. Instead, they were transported to Tucson, where they separated Maribel and her child from her husband, putting them in different buses to expel them to Mexico. The men’s bus arrived in Nogales first, and the non-Mexicans were detained by Mexico’s INM, to be transferred to their immigration station in Hermosillo. When Maribel arrived, she was told they could not transport her to Hermosillo, as her baby was sick. Maribel has not heard from her husband since.  Maribel’s expulsion under Title 42 led to family separation by Mexican authorities, putting her in a more vulnerable situation and creating repeated human rights violations.

— “July 21 update from KBI” (Nogales: Kino Border Initiative, July 21, 2022).

Sector(s): Tucson

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

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

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: Family Unit, Guatemala

Mid-July, 2022

Though a May 23, 2022 District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals ruling prohibited CBP personnel from using Title 42 to expel asylum-seeking families to places where they will be persecuted or tortured (original link), the practice continues. The Nogales, Arizona-based Kino Border Initiative (KBI) reported the case of a Guatemalan mother and children expelled to Mexico without a chance to seek protection in the United States.

After fleeing Guatemala, Belinda [name changed to protect privacy] and her 3 children asked CBP for access to the asylum process. The agents responded that they would be able to stay in the US and reunite with their family there, but instead, boarded them on a bus to deport them to Mexico. After arriving at the INM (National Migration Institute of Mexico), Belinda begged the officials not to deport her to Guatemala where she would face danger. The migration officer sent 45 people to Hermosillo to begin their deportation, but allowed Belinda to stay, a chance use of discretion that allowed Belinda to narrowly escape a return to danger.

— “July 21 update from KBI” (Nogales: Kino Border Initiative, July 21, 2022).

Sector(s): Tucson

Agency(ies): CBP

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

Last Known Accountability Status:

Victim Classification: Family Unit, Guatemala

Mid-July, 2022

The Nogales, Arizona-based Kino Border Initiative (KBI) reported on severe brutality that a Mexican man allegedly suffered at the hands of a Border Patrol agent:

Benjamín [Name changed to protect privacy] had been in the desert for 8 days when BP encountered him at 4 in the morning. He did not run, but the agent handcuffed him. When Benjamín asked for a drink of water, the BP agent threw him face down onto the ground, began kicking him and stood on the back of his head, which was pushed into a rock until his head was cut open and bleeding. The agent yelled, “If you want water, go get it in your own country! You only come here to f*ck around!” Benjamín eventually lost consciousness. When he came to, another agent sent his search dog to lick the blood from his face. BP took Benjamín to the hospital, only after he asked repeatedly for medical attention. BP then deported him to Mexico without any of his medical paperwork, which Benjamín reports an agent hid in his shirt. Upon arriving at Kino, he shared: “I’m trying to escape death in my country, only to nearly die here [in the US].”

— “July 21 update from KBI” (Nogales: Kino Border Initiative, July 21, 2022).

Sector(s): Tucson

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Abusive Language, Use of Force

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: Mexico, Single Adult