52 Records of Alleged Abusive or Improper Conduct in “CBP”

February 21, 2023

Media and NGO reporting indicated that CBP began forcing asylum-seeking families to separate at the borderline when only some family members were able to secure appointments, via the “CBP One” smartphone app, at ports of entry. Due to a very limited number of exemptions to the Title 42 expulsions policy, these appointments are scarce, and difficult to obtain for parents and children all together.

In February 2023 CBP officers on the borderline reportedly began more strictly enforcing appointments, refusing entry to family members who had not managed to secure appointments with the app, even as they accompanied spouses or parents with appointments.

The Rio Grande Valley, Texas Monitor reported on the scene at the bridge between Reynosa, Tamaulipas and Hidalgo, Texas:

Over on the Hidalgo bridge connecting with Reynosa, Priscilla Orta, an attorney working with Lawyers for Good Government, was in line last Wednesday waiting to cross back into the U.S.

“Next thing I know, there it is, at the bridge, you’re seeing it — people are being forced to make the decisions, families are fighting, there’s crying, they’re screaming,” Orta said.

Families she spoke with also reported feeling jilted by the sudden enforcement that meant they’d have to make a quick decision.

Orta returned to frantic families in Reynosa the next day with questions that CBP is attempting to address.

“I think what’s happening now is that they are trying to correct the issue,” Orta said. “But it’s a pretty big issue, because there are no slots,” she said, referring to the appointment slots available. “They’re gone sometimes by 8:03 a.m. We have sometimes seen that the spots are gone by 8:01 a.m. And everyone knows it.”

On February 24, 2023, the Los Angeles Times cited a Venezuelan migrant who went through this experience in Matamoros, Tamaulipas:

The 25-year-old from Venezuela eventually secured appointments for himself and his wife, but the slots filled up so quickly that he couldn’t get two more for their children. They weren’t worried though — they had heard about families in similar situations being waved through by border officials.

Instead, he said, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection agent told them last week that because each member of the family did not have an appointment: “You two can enter, but not your children.”

— Gonzalez, Valerie. “Families Consider Separation to Seek Asylum as They Face Limited Appointments through CBP App.” The Monitor. February 22, 2023. <https://myrgv.com/local-news/2023/02/21/families-consider-separation-to-seek-asylum-as-they-face-limited-appointments-through-cbp-app/>.

— Castillo, Andrea. “Forced to Apply for Asylum on an Overloaded App, Migrants Face Decision to Split up Families or Wait Indefinitely.” Los Angeles Times. February 24, 2023, sec. Politics. <https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2023-02-24/asylum-seeking-families-consider-separation-shortage-mobile-app-appointments>.

Sector(s): Laredo Field Office

Agency(ies): Office of Field Operations

Event Type(s): Family Separation

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: Family Unit, Venezuela

November 30, 2022

The Department of Justice reported the indictment of Aaron Mitchell, 27, on “three counts: a civil rights violation for sexually assaulting and kidnapping a minor victim, kidnapping a minor victim, and misleading state investigators.” (Original link) The Department’s statement, and prosecutors’ November 10 brief opposing Mitchell’s release from pretrial detention, identified Mitchell as being “employed as a Customs and Border Patrol Officer (CBPO)”—which most likely means an officer of CBP’s Office of Field Operations.

On April 25, 2022, Mitchell allegedly kidnapped and sexually assaulted a 15-year-old girl in Arizona. (Original link) The victim, a citizen of Mexico, was on her way to school in Arizona.

Mitchell, wearing police attire, told the girl he was a police officer and asked to see her documents. After she complied, Mitchell ordered her to get in his car, saying they needed to go to the police station. But Mitchell did not drive her to the police station—he drove her an hour away to his apartment.

After finishing an in-custody interview with Mitchell, Douglas, Arizona police left their video recording equipment on. According to the prosecution’s document, “That video recorder caught Mitchell muttering to himself, ‘I cannot believe this s—. F—ing little b——. B—— is claiming rape. That’s so f—ing crazy. That’s crazy, man. She better hope I don’t get out of here.’”

Mitchell had served as a CBP officer for 10 months at the time of his arrest.

— U.S. Department of Justice. “Former Customs and Border Protection Agent Indicted for Federal Civil Rights Violation for Sexually Assaulting and Kidnapping a Minor,” November 30, 2022. <https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/former-customs-and-border-protection-agent-indicted-federal-civil-rights-violation-sexually>.

— Restaino, Gary M., Christina M. Cabanillas, Carin C. Duryee, Kristen Clarke, Erin H. Flynn, and Brant S. Levine. “U.S. v. Mitchell No. 22-10268.” U.S. Department of Justice, November 10, 2022. <https://www.justice.gov/crt/case-document/file/1551906/download>.

— Siemaszko, Corky. “Former CBP Agent Accused of Sexually Assaulting a Minor Was Caught on Video Threatening His Accuser.” NBC News, December 7, 2022. <https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/former-cbp-agent-accused-sexually-assaulting-minor-was-caught-video-th-rcna60222>.

Sector(s): Tucson Field Office

Agency(ies): Office of Field Operations

Event Type(s): Abuse of Minor, Sexual Assault or Harassment, Threat of Violence, Unethical Off-Duty Behavior

Last Known Accountability Status: Criminal Charges Pending, Under Judicial Review

Victim Classification: Accompanied Child, Female, Mexico, Sexual Abuse Victim

October 7, 2022

A Southern California public radio investigation found that CBP and Border Patrol in San Diego are releasing injured migrants from custody before they receive necessary treatment, in order to avoid “skyrocketing medical costs” amid a big increase in border wall-related injuries.

Mexico’s consul in San Diego said that “during the first 12 days of August, eight Mexican nationals died trying to cross the border in an undocumented way.” A January 27, 2023 document from the consulate recorded 23 deaths and dozens of injuries, listed as “wall-related,” of Mexican migrants in the San Diego area. (Original link)

With CBP paying far fewer of injured migrants’ medical bills, California’s state government—which changed its law in 2021 to expand the state’s health-care program to cover undocumented migrants’ medical costs—is now bearing most of the cost. The investigation reports:

In 2019, CBP paid the medical expenses of roughly 75% of the patients their agents brought into UC San Diego. That percentage increased to 80% in 2020 but then dropped to 50% in 2021. So far this year, the CBP payment rate at the hospital is down to 15%, although that percentage could go up as payments are processed.

It adds, citing the hospital’s head of trauma, that “the UC San Diego Medical Center has received so many border fall patients this year that the hospital had to dedicate an entire ward just for them.”

— Solis, Gustavo. “Border Patrol Avoiding Medical Costs by Releasing Injured Migrants, Records Show.” KPBS Public Media, October 7, 2022. <https://www.kpbs.org/news/border-immigration/2022/10/07/border-patrol-avoiding-medical-costs-by-releasing-injured-migrants-records-show>.

— “Mexican Nationals Injured or Dead While Crossing the Border in the San Diego-Tijuana Region during Fiscal Years 2020-2022.” Consulate of Mexico in San Diego, January 2023. <https://consulmex.sre.gob.mx/sandiego/index.php/boletines/856-increasing-number-of-mexican-nationals-injured-or-dead-in-their-attempt-to-cross-the-border>.

Sector(s): San Diego, San Diego Field Office

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

Event Type(s): Denial of Medical Care

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification:

September 10, 2022

CBP stopped updating its “@CBPWestTexas” Twitter account after an unidentified employee used it to share former Trump advisor Stephen Miller’s view that “Biden’s eradication of our border means we are no longer a Republic,” and to issue “likes” to homophobic tweets.

“The tweets do not reflect the values of this administration and our work to rebuild a humane, orderly and secure immigration system,” CBP Commissioner Chris Magnus said in a statement.

— “Border Patrol halts tweets from agency’s West Texas region” (United States: Associated Press, September 11, 2022) <https://apnews.com/article/biden-texas-donald-trump-immigration-pete-buttigieg-72a4b44c5a50f7917f9ea925b46472da>.

Screen capture of CBP West Texas @CBPWestTexas Twitter account, September 10, 2022 <https://twitter.com/CBPWestTexas/>.

CBP Commissioner Chris Magnus @CBPChrisMagnus on Twitter (September 10, 2022) <https://twitter.com/CBPChrisMagnus/status/1568780563099664388>.

Sector(s): El Paso Field Office

Agency(ies): CBP

Event Type(s): Insubordinate or Highly Politicized Conduct

Last Known Accountability Status: Under OPR Investigation

Victim Classification:

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:

July 26, 2022

A U.S. District judge sentenced former CBP officer Simon Medina to 24 months in federal prison (original link). Medina admitted that, while serving at the Laredo, Texas port of entry,

between May 25 and Aug. 6, 2020, he allowed several individuals to enter the United States with contraband in their vehicles on approximately 20 occasions. Although not assigned to the entry lanes at the Laredo Port of Entry, Medina would open a lane and allow his co-conspirators to pass through without inspecting their cargo. Medina also accepted gratuities from his partners.

Medina had pleaded guilty on March 8, 2022. CBP’s Office of Professional Responsibility carried out the initial investigation of his case.

— “Former law enforcement officer heads to prison for allowing contraband into country” (Texas: U.S. Attorney’s Office Southern District of Texas, July 26, 2022) https://www.justice.gov/usao-sdtx/pr/former-law-enforcement-officer-heads-prison-allowing-contraband-country.

Sector(s): Laredo Field Office

Agency(ies): Office of Field Operations

Event Type(s): Corruption

Last Known Accountability Status: Criminal Conviction, OPR Investigation Closed

Victim Classification:

May 14, 2022

Two CBP officers fired gunshots at a vehicle during a southbound traffic inspection at the Bridge of the Americas port of entry in El Paso, Texas.

“While attempting to inspect a vehicle, a driver made an abrupt movement, at which point the officers perceived a threat to themselves and fired at the driver who fled from the inspection area at a high rate of speed and crossed into Mexico,” a CBP spokesperson e-mailed the El Paso Times.

Mexican authorities later found the vehicle in Ciudad Juárez. The incident is under investigation by CBP’s Office of Professional Responsibility.

— Daniel Borunda, “CBP officers in El Paso fire at vehicle in border shooting on the Bridge of the Americas” (El Paso: El Paso Times, May 15, 2022) https://www.elpasotimes.com/story/news/crime/2022/05/15/el-paso-shooting-bridge-americas-cbp-border-mexico/9785893002/.

Sector(s): El Paso Field Office

Agency(ies): Office of Field Operations

Event Type(s): Use of Force

Last Known Accountability Status: Under OPR Investigation

Victim Classification:

March and April, 2022

An April 2022 report from Human Rights First, the Haitian Bridge Alliance, and Al Otro Lado lists several examples of San Diego CBP port-of-entry officers’ refusals to grant humanitarian exceptions to Title 42 for especially vulnerable asylum seekers.

In April 2022, CBP denied humanitarian exemption requests for a Nigerian man with glaucoma and hand tremors who was beaten by police in Mexico; a gay Venezuelan man living with HIV who is partially deaf; a Mexican torture survivor with diabetes; a Haitian woman with a high-risk pregnancy who is experiencing food insecurity; and a disabled Honduran man whose injuries from a car accident have become infected and who needs specialized medical treatment. These requests had been submitted by Ginger Cline, an attorney with Al Otro Lado.

CBP officers at the San Ysidro port of entry have also recently denied humanitarian exemption requests for a Mexican woman fleeing threats by a cartel who murdered the woman’s husband and whose 12-year- old son has a pacemaker and urgently needs specialized medical treatment; a 14-year-old with a traumatic brain injury he incurred from falling from a two-story building to escape kidnappers; and a two- year-old Honduran asylum-seeking child with severe and worsening epilepsy who suffers from eight- minute-long seizures. Margaret Cargioli, an attorney with Immigrant Defenders Law Center in San Diego, had submitted these requests ultimately denied by CBP.

CBP at the San Ysidro port of entry has failed to respond to humanitarian exemption requests submitted months ago, including for a LGBTQ woman with maternal uterine fibroids who experiences constant bleeding after she was raped twice in Mexico in bias-motivated attacks based on her sexual orientation and for a Mexican domestic violence victim whose husband found her in Tijuana and kidnapped her daughter, according to Immigrant Defenders Law Center.

Extending Title 42 Would Escalate Dangers, Exacerbate Disorder, and Magnify Discrimination (New York: Human Rights First, Haitian Bridge Alliance, Al Otro Lado, April 27, 2022) https://www.humanrightsfirst.org/resource/extending-title-42-would-escalate-dangers-exacerbate-disorder-and-magnify-discrimination.

Sector(s): San Diego Field Office

Agency(ies): Office of Field Operations

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

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: Accompanied Child, Black, Disability, Domestic or Gender-Based Violence Victim, Family Unit, Female, Haiti, Honduras, Kidnap Victim, LGBTQ, Medical Condition, Mexico, Nigeria, Pregnancy, Single Adult, Venezuela

March, 2022

“In March 2022, CBP turned away a Nigerian asylum seeker with urgent medical needs,” reads a report from Human Rights First, the Haitian Bridge Alliance, and Al Otro Lado. “The man had been shot multiple times in Mexico, required a colostomy bag to eat, and urgently needed medical treatment unavailable in Tijuana, according to Nicole Ramos, an attorney with Al Otro Lado.”

Extending Title 42 Would Escalate Dangers, Exacerbate Disorder, and Magnify Discrimination (New York: Human Rights First, Haitian Bridge Alliance, Al Otro Lado, April 27, 2022) https://www.humanrightsfirst.org/resource/extending-title-42-would-escalate-dangers-exacerbate-disorder-and-magnify-discrimination.

Sector(s): San Diego Field Office

Agency(ies): Office of Field Operations

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

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: Black, Nigeria, Single Adult

March, 2022

A report from Human Rights First, the Haitian Bridge Alliance, and Al Otro Lado discusses CBP’s insistence on expelling members of an imminently threatened Mexican family with an injured teenager in San Diego.

In March 2022 CBP turned away a Mexican asylum-seeking family fleeing Michoacán after the cartel that had threatened to kill them tortured a family member into disclosing their location in Tijuana. Desperate to escape the cartel, the family attempted to climb over the 30-foot border wall, but a 14-year-old girl fell and was seriously injured. CBP expelled the family back to danger in Tijuana under Title 42 allowing only the girl’s mother to remain with her at a San Diego hospital. The family told the San Diego Union-Tribune, “she’s fighting for her life, and we only did it because [the cartel] already knew we were in Tijuana. We didn’t have another option.”

Extending Title 42 Would Escalate Dangers, Exacerbate Disorder, and Magnify Discrimination (New York: Human Rights First, Haitian Bridge Alliance, Al Otro Lado, April 27, 2022) https://www.humanrightsfirst.org/resource/extending-title-42-would-escalate-dangers-exacerbate-disorder-and-magnify-discrimination.

— Kate Morrissey, “Ukrainians Only: Racial Disparities in U.S. Border Policies Grow More Obvious” (The San Diego Union-Tribune, Tuesday, March 22, 2022) https://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/immigration/story/2022-03-19/ukrainians-border-title-42.

Sector(s): San Diego Field Office

Agency(ies): Office of Field Operations

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

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: Family Unit, Mexico

March, 2022

An April 2022 report from Human Rights First, the Haitian Bridge Alliance, and Al Otro Lado recounts the experience of a Honduran asylum-seeking family that spent three days in CBP custody before being expelled into Mexico under Title 42.

CBP held an asylum-seeking Honduran family in freezing cells for days before expelling them under Title 42 without their belongings to Mexico where they were kidnapped just prior to attempting to seek asylum near Calexico. During their three days in CBP custody, the family of three children and their mother were forced to sleep on the floor of a freezing cold holding cell with nothing but foil blankets to keep warm. When CBP expelled the family under Title 42 to San Luis Río Colorado, the officers did not return the family’s possessions, including money, luggage, and medications. They received only their shoes, which were soaking wet and covered in dirt causing painful blisters to develop as the family walked in search of a bus to take them to a shelter.

Extending Title 42 Would Escalate Dangers, Exacerbate Disorder, and Magnify Discrimination (New York: Human Rights First, Haitian Bridge Alliance, Al Otro Lado, April 27, 2022) https://www.humanrightsfirst.org/resource/extending-title-42-would-escalate-dangers-exacerbate-disorder-and-magnify-discrimination.

Sector(s): El Centro, San Diego Field Office

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

Event Type(s): Conditions in Custody, Non-Return of Belongings

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: Family Unit, Honduras

March, 2022

An April 2022 report from Human Rights First, the Haitian Bridge Alliance, and Al Otro Lado recounts the days-long separation of a Haitian family in CBP custody, along with allegations of racist language.

An asylum-seeking Haitian family expelled under Title 42 to Haiti and forced to flee again reported in March 2022 that during the expulsion CBP officers separated the parents from their 16-year-old daughter and subjected the girl to racist abuse. The family was detained for days in freezing cold CBP holding cells, with the teenager held separately with other children. She told Human Rights First that during the painful days she was detained away from her parents U.S. officers called her racist names including the N-word.

Extending Title 42 Would Escalate Dangers, Exacerbate Disorder, and Magnify Discrimination (New York: Human Rights First, Haitian Bridge Alliance, Al Otro Lado, April 27, 2022) https://www.humanrightsfirst.org/resource/extending-title-42-would-escalate-dangers-exacerbate-disorder-and-magnify-discrimination.

Sector(s): San Diego Field Office

Agency(ies): Office of Field Operations

Event Type(s): Abuse of Minor, Abusive Language, Conditions in Custody, Family Separation, Racial Discrimination or Profiling

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: Accompanied Child, Black, Family Unit, Female, Haiti

March, 2022

A report from Human Rights First, the Haitian Bridge Alliance, and Al Otro Lado recounts CBP’s expulsion of a Mexican family who presented graphic evidence of their protection needs.

In March 2022, CBP officers turned away a Mexican asylum seeker and her children who fled Guerrero after the woman’s husband and teenage son were murdered. The woman brought photos of the chopped-up bodies of her loved ones as evidence of the danger the family had fled. “I’m not here because I want to be here. I’m here to save the lives of my children,” she told the San Diego Union- Tribune. The family spent the night outside the port of entry until Mexican officials pressured them to leave the area.

Extending Title 42 Would Escalate Dangers, Exacerbate Disorder, and Magnify Discrimination (New York: Human Rights First, Haitian Bridge Alliance, Al Otro Lado, April 27, 2022) https://www.humanrightsfirst.org/resource/extending-title-42-would-escalate-dangers-exacerbate-disorder-and-magnify-discrimination.

— Kate Morrissey, “Ukrainians Only: Racial Disparities in U.S. Border Policies Grow More Obvious” (The San Diego Union-Tribune, Tuesday, March 22, 2022) https://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/immigration/story/2022-03-19/ukrainians-border-title-42.

Sector(s): San Diego Field Office

Agency(ies): Office of Field Operations

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

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: Family Unit, Mexico

February, 2022

Human Rights Watch reported on CBP’s Title 42 expulsion of Adolfo H. and Gerardo C. (pseudonyms), a gay couple fleeing Cuba and El Salvador who had already “experienced extortion several times by Mexican immigration agents.”

US officials told the couple that Adolfo could stay and seek asylum in the United States because he is from Cuba but that his partner would be expelled, even though border officials had the authority to allow both men in. Instead, they gave them the option of being separated or of being expelled together. They said that while they were in custody, US officials told them to stop holding hands or touching one another.

CBP officers expelled both men back to Ciudad Juárez, Mexico.

US: LGBT Asylum Seekers in Danger at the Border (New York: Human Rights Watch, May 31, 2022) https://www.hrw.org/news/2022/05/31/us-lgbt-asylum-seekers-danger-border.

Sector(s): El Paso Field Office

Agency(ies): Office of Field Operations

Event Type(s): Denial of Protection to Most Vulnerable, LGBT Discrimination or Harassment

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: Cuba, El Salvador, LGBTQ

January 13, 2022

A January 2022 Human Rights First report discussed examples of CBP’s implementation of “Remain in Mexico” (RMX) involving separation of family members, non-return of belongings, and dangerous returns.

CBP officers are separating some RMX returnees from family members. The Border Project identified approximately 10 RMX returnees who had been separated from spouses or adult children. One man who was returned to Mexico under RMX told the Border Project that he had been separated from his wife, who is six-months pregnant and suffers from epilepsy and asthma. A Venezuelan asylum seeker told Human Rights First that he had been separated from his adult brother and uncle. In addition, CBP is returning individuals without their belongings and dressed in identical clothing that would make them readily identifiable as migrants. Multiple individuals reported to Human Rights First that CBP officers discarded their personal possessions and that they were returned to Ciudad Juárez in December 2021 under RMX without their clothing, shoes, coats, or medication among other personal items – in violation of CBP’s detention standards (original link). As a result, RMX returnees were forced to wear CBP-issued sweatsuits as they were returned to Ciudad Juárez, and on one occasion, Human Rights First researchers also observed RMX returnees wearing CBP-issued flip flops despite temperatures dipping to 40°F that day.

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): El Paso Field Office

Agency(ies): CBP

Event Type(s): Dangerous Deportation, Family Separation, Non-Return of Belongings

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: Disability, Family Unit, Pregnancy, Venezuela

January 13, 2022

A January 2022 Human Rights First report recounted the experience of four Nicaraguan and Venezuelan asylum seekers who were laterally flown from McAllen to El Paso, Texas, detained for more than 10 days, then placed into the “Remain in Mexico” (RMX) program.

The men had crossed the border near the Rio Grande Valley in November 2021, where CBP initially detained them in horrible conditions in hieleras (extremely cold cells), woke them in the middle of the night, shackled them by their hands, feet, and waists, and then flew them to El Paso. There they were held in CBP cells for several more days before being sent to Ciudad Juárez under RMX. CBP falsely told some of the men that they were being transferred for release to family members in the United States.

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): El Paso, El Paso Field Office, Rio Grande Valley

Agency(ies): Border Patrol, CBP

Event Type(s): Conditions in Custody, Lying or Deliberate Misleading

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: Nicaragua, Single Adult, Venezuela

January 13, 2022

According to a January 2022 Human Rights First report on the “Remain in Mexico” (RMX) program in El Paso, “Some migrants and asylum seekers said CBP officers refused to provide masks to detainees who requested them and that some CBP officers were themselves not consistently wearing personal protective equipment.” In San Diego in early January 2022, one man “reported that CBP officers refused to provide him a mask when he requested one.”

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): El Paso, El Paso Field Office, San Diego, San Diego Field Office

Agency(ies): CBP

Event Type(s): Conditions in Custody, Disregard of Public Health

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification:

January 13, 2022

A January 2022 Human Rights First report, discussing implementation of the “Remain in Mexico” (RMX) program in El Paso, recounted examples of denial of medical attention to detained migrants.

A Nicaraguan man told Human Rights First that CBP officers ignored another detainee who lay unconscious on the floor of the cell for hours until other detainees begged for assistance. The Border Project reported that a migrant placed in RMX in El Paso had been held in a CBP detention facility for four days and denied needed blood pressure medication.

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): El Paso, El Paso Field Office

Agency(ies): CBP

Event Type(s): Denial of Medical Care

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: Nicaragua

January 13, 2022

A January 2022 Human Rights First report, discussing implementation of the “Remain in Mexico” (RMX) program in El Paso, reported that “CBP did not permit detained migrants and asylum seekers, many of whom were detained for nearly two weeks, to call their families to inform them of their whereabouts.”

After their return to Mexico under RMX, many learned that CBP officers had lied to them when the officers claimed that CBP would contact their family members in the United States, leaving their families in anguish for weeks uncertain as to the fate of their loved ones.

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): El Paso, El Paso Field Office

Agency(ies): CBP

Event Type(s): Conditions in Custody, Lying or Deliberate Misleading

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification:

January 13, 2022

A January 2022 Human Rights First report discussed CBP’s denial of humanitarian parole requests for highly vulnerable migrants at the San Ysidro Port of Entry between San Diego and Tijuana.

CBP has denied or ignored more than 100 of the 147 humanitarian parole requests Al Otro Lado submitted to the San Ysidro port of entry, according to attorney Ginger Cline. People denied parole by CBP at the San Ysidro port of entry since December 2021 include: a Salvadoran woman with epilepsy who was kidnapped, drugged, and beaten in Mexico; a Haitian man who experienced two racially motivated assaults in Tijuana; a Mexican woman fleeing cartel threats and severe domestic violence whose 9-year-old child was sexually abused; a Haitian man with painful growths on his chest who was sexually assaulted by his employer and who has been unable to access medical treatment in Tijuana; and a LGBTQ Haitian person who was assaulted in Mexico.

Yet, at other U.S. ports of entry, including Brownsville and Hidalgo, CBP officers have approved hundreds of humanitarian parole requests since late 2021, according to Charlene D’Cruz with Lawyers for Good Government.

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): San Diego Field Office

Agency(ies): CBP

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

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: Black, Disability, Domestic or Gender-Based Violence Victim, El Salvador, Family Unit, Haiti, Kidnap Victim, LGBTQ, Mexico, Sexual Abuse Victim

January 6, 2022

The Kino Border Initiative reported on recent cases of expulsions into Mexico of particularly vulnerable migrants who do not speak Spanish:

Sixteen percent of those arriving at KBI in the last two weeks of December originally migrated from Haiti. Several of the Haitian families could not respond to simple questions in Spanish without the assistance of an interpreter. In some cases, one individual from the group spoke enough Spanish to interpret for others who did not speak Spanish. One young Haitian woman described experiencing discrimination during their journey north. She reported that her family was extorted in every country they traveled through, including members of the Mexican National Guard who stopped them in southern Mexico, opened up their backpacks, and took whatever they wanted.

Numerous indigenous families from Guatemala have been expelled to Nogales under Title 42, putting them at particular risk of discrimination in Mexico due to language barriers and cultural differences. A Guatemalan family whose primary language is Mam was expelled last week after attempting to cross into the US to seek asylum, as was a Guatemalan man whose primary language is Cakchiquel.

— “January 6 Update from KBI” (Nogales: Kino Border Initiative, January 6, 2021)

Sector(s): Tucson Field Office

Agency(ies): CBP, Office of Field Operations

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

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

Victim Classification: Black, Family Unit, Guatemala, Haiti, Indigenous

January 6, 2022

The Kino Border Initiative reported:

A man from Honduras was expelled to Nogales, Sonora late December in a state of extreme dehydration. He was visibly trembling and reported to KBI that for four days he had only drank water, and that he could not keep down any solid food. An ambulance took him from KBI to the hospital, where he received 15 bags of IV fluids.

— “January 6 Update from KBI” (Nogales: Kino Border Initiative, January 6, 2022).

Sector(s): Tucson Field Office

Agency(ies): Office of Field Operations

Event Type(s): Denial of Medical Care, Return of Vulnerable Individuals

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

Victim Classification: Honduras, Medical Condition, Single Adult

January 6, 2022

The Kino Border Initiative reported:

A young Guatemalan man who was recently expelled to Nogales, Sonora had tried to cross into the US to seek asylum after fleeing threats from extortionists in his hometown. He fell and injured his knee while traveling in the desert. Although he reported his injury to immigration officials, he was not offered medical attention. He was expelled to Nogales at 3AM, where he spent the night exposed in the plaza downtown until the sun came up.

— “January 6 Update from KBI” (Nogales: Kino Border Initiative, January 6, 2021).

Sector(s): Tucson Field Office

Agency(ies): Office of Field Operations

Event Type(s): Dangerous Deportation, Denial of Medical Care

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

Victim Classification: Guatemala, Medical Condition, Single Adult

January 5, 2022

In the January 8, 2022 San Diego Union-Tribune, reporter Kate Morrissey recounted the experience of two Colombian men who, on January 5, were the first to be sent back to Tijuana under the revived “Remain in Mexico” program. She found that what they underwent “included many of the issues that plagued the program under the Trump administration.”

The Biden administration’s December 2 guidance for the restarted program promised access to counsel. But Morrissey found that “the two Colombian men were not allowed to speak with attorneys while in U.S. custody.” The wife of one of the men, a green card holder in the United States, could have hired an attorney for him to support his claim of fear of return to Mexico, but officials denied his request to call her.

The men, who had turned themselves in to U.S. personnel in order to seek protection after receiving urgent threats in Colombia, recounted poor treatment in CBP custody. They were placed in a cell in a Border Patrol station with “dozens of other men,” forced to sleep on the floor for nearly a week, with lights always on, for lack of bed space. They were not given an opportunity to bathe or shower. “Though they do not speak much English, they realized that agents were speaking badly about them, they said. They recognized words like ‘stupid’ and phrases like ‘go back to your country.’”

As required by the new guidelines, a Border Patrol agent asked the men if they were afraid to return to Mexico, although they said “another agent tried to keep that official from asking the question.” Under the Biden administration’s new guidance, after expressing fear the men were entitled to 24 hours to contact an attorney before speaking with an asylum officer. It was during those 24 hours, they said, that CBP personnel refused to allow them “to make any calls or otherwise access legal counsel.”

They said an agent told them that no matter what happened, they would be sent back to Mexico. So, when the asylum officer asked if they wanted to wait longer in custody in order to access attorneys, the men waived that right, not wanting to spend more time in the crowded cell with their fate already decided.

The men added that they were not asked detailed questions about their medical history, even though the Biden administration’s new guidelines specify medical conditions for exemption from the program (original link). Though the guidance directs that those subject to Remain in Mexico are to receive COVID-19 vaccinations if they need them, one man who had only received the first of his two shots was sent over the border before officials could administer his vaccine.

CBP meanwhile confused the men’s paperwork, Morrissey found. Each man had the first page of the other’s notice to appear in court. And at first, they were scheduled for hearings months beyond the six-month limit that the Biden administration had agreed with Mexico. They managed to reschedule for February after raising the issue with their asylum officer.

Now in Tijuana, the Colombian men told Morrissey that they are “confused and terrified.” They refused to provide their names, fearing that their notoriety leaves them exposed to extortion or attack. “We’re the two from Colombia,” one said. “Everyone knows we’re them. We already have problems.”

— Kate Morrissey, “U.S. failure to follow Remain in Mexico rules show program hasn’t changed as promised” (San Diego, The San Diego Union-Tribune, January 8, 2022) https://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/immigration/story/2022-01-08/remain-in-mexico-returns-to-tijuana.

— Robert Silvers, “Guidance regarding the Court-Ordered Reimplementation of the Migrant Protection Protocols” (Washington: Department of Homeland Security, December 2, 2021) https://www.dhs.gov/publication/court-ordered-reimplementation-mpp-policy-guidance.

Sector(s): San Diego, San Diego Field Office

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

Event Type(s): Abusive Language, Conditions in Custody, Dangerous Deportation, Denial of Access to Counsel

Last Known Accountability Status: No Steps Taken

Victim Classification: Colombia, Single Adult

Late December 2021 and Early January 2022

A January 2022 Human Rights First report discussed examples of CBP personnel hindering access to counsel for migrants placed into the “Remain in Mexico” (RMX) program, even though the Biden administration’s December 2021 guidance guarantees that those who fear return to Mexico may have the opportunity to consult with an attorney before their non-refoulement interviews with U.S. asylum officers (original link).

A Nicaraguan asylum seeker reported to Human Rights First that CBP officers threatened that his non-refoulment interview would be rescheduled and his detention in horrible CBP custody extended, if he insisted on speaking to an attorney, thereby pressuring him to go ahead without an attorney. In another case, CBP officers tricked an individual who is unable to read into signing a document waiving his opportunity to have counsel during the RMX fear screening interview. CBP officers told him that by signing the document he would be indicating that he had a fear of returning to Mexico, according to attorneys from the Border Project.

Multiple asylum seekers who did not pass RMX fear screening interviews and were returned to Ciudad Juárez in December 2021 reported that CBP officers falsely told them that they would have to pay for an attorney consultation for the RMX fear screening even though the Border Project was providing free legal consultations at the time. As a result, the individuals went ahead with their non-refoulement interviews without legal counsel.

In early December 2021, RMX returnees interviewed by Human Rights First in Ciudad Juárez said that they were not provided informational flyers explaining access to legal services until after the non-refoulement interview was completed or, in some cases, as they were being returned to Mexico by CBP. Several individuals returned to Tijuana under RMX in early January 2022 also reported that they were not informed that they could consult with a lawyer until after the non-refoulement interview was already completed, according to a volunteer with the California Welcoming Task Force.

CBP officers told a Nicaraguan asylum seeker detained in El Paso he could only speak with a lawyer selected for him by DHS, which he would have to pay for. The man told Human Rights First that his request to contact his family to ask them to hire a lawyer was denied by CBP. As a result, he was unable to speak with a lawyer before CBP returned him to Ciudad Juárez under RMX.

As RMX relaunched in San Diego in January 2022, asylum seekers and migrants there “told a volunteer from the California Welcoming Task Force that they were not informed of the opportunity to contact counsel prior to the non-refoulement interview and were told by CBP officers that they would be returned to Mexico regardless of the outcome of that interview.”

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): El Paso Field Office

Agency(ies): CBP

Event Type(s): Denial of Access to Counsel, Lying or Deliberate Misleading

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: Nicaragua, Single Adult