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

January 17, 2024

A January 17 Arizona Daily Star report described freezing temperatures and lack of access to basic necessities threatening asylum seekers gathered outdoors along the border, especially in southern Arizona. As many as 1,000 people were reported awaiting processing in the Tohono O’odham Nation lands along the border in the remote desert southwest of Tucson. A majority of the arrivals reported in this region, as cited by the Arizona Daily Star and described by Tohono O’odham Chairman Verlon Jose, are asylum seekers in family units, including young children. 

Since December, aid workers have coordinated daily presence in the Arizona border region, particularly in the context of freezing temperatures and heavy rains, often being the sole providers of food, water, shelter, medical care, and addressing the growing sanitation needs. A volunteer described his experience, “shoveling human excrement into [the] trenches that were dug”. Volunteers were also reportedly transporting asylum seekers experiencing medical emergencies, despite Border Patrol’s threats to arrest them, as volunteers described the lack of response by authorities even in dire situations. 

Volunteers from Southern Arizona humanitarian aid group, No More Deaths, built a make-shift encampment in the desert region east of Sásabe, with tents and a cooking area, and attached tarps to the border wall to create additional shelters from the cold. CBP subsequently placed “cease-and-desist” signs on the tarps, stating it was a safety hazard and interfered with law enforcement and construction crews’ access to the road, as well as obstructed visibility. 

After pressure from aid workers and the Tohono O’odham nation, Customs and Border Protection installed one large, heated tent, portable toilets, and a hand washing station near the San Miguel gate. 

“It’s solely their responsibility to be doing almost everything that we’re currently doing”, stated a humanitarian aid volunteer. 

Bregel, Emily. “Life-Threatening Cold, ‘sanitation Crisis’ for Migrants at Arizona-Mexico Border.” Arizona Daily Star, January 17, 2024. https://tucson.com/news/local/subscriber/arizona-mexico-border-tohono-oodham-asylumseekers-migrants-surge/article_52e4a176-b565-11ee-87a6-67208722eaeb.html.

Sector(s): Border Patrol, CBP, Tucson

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Conditions in Custody, Conditions of Arrest or Apprehension, Denial of Protection to Most Vulnerable, Disregard of Public Health, Endangerment

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: Mexico

September 14, 2023

 Reporting on September 14, 2023, the Nogales-based Kino Border Initiative (KBI), recounted a case of an attempted kidnapping of a migrant woman. When she arrived at the port of entry to request asylum, she was turned away without access to an asylum process. 

Nuria [name changed to protect privacy] fled Quintana Roo after a narcotrafficking group tried to take her as their “woman.” She turned herself into Border Patrol, where agents asked why she wanted asylum. She explained her situation, but the agents only took her fingerprints, said, “There’s no asylum for you. Asylum is closed,” and sent her back to Mexico. 

Kino Border Initiative. 2022. “Congressional Year End Report 2023.” Https://Www.Kinoborderinitiative.Org/Annual-Report/. Kino Border Initiative. https://www.kinoborderinitiative.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/01/Congressional-Year-End-Report-2023_.pdf.

Sector(s): Border Patrol, CBP

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

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

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: Female, Mexico

August 17, 2023

 On August 17, the Nogales-based Kino Border Initiative (KBI), recounted that a DACA recipient was denied reentry into the U.S. by CBP, for unclear reasons, while also being separated from their sibling and having their diabetes medication confiscated.

“Fernando* [name changed to protect privacy] grew up in the US and was a DACA recipient. His mother in Mexico got very sick, and he applied and received advance parole to go to visit her. However, upon his return to the US, CBP denied his entry and he is unclear as to the reason. He began to work in Southern Mexico, where his sister lived, until organized crime took over the city. They demanded he pay a protection fee and told him he had 3 days to pay them 15,000 pesos ($875 USD). They fled to Central Mexico, but the same group located them there. They fled to the border, where BP agents apprehended them. The agents said if they signed their voluntary return, they would be able to stay together throughout the process. However, they returned Fernando alone and he hasn’t heard from his sister in 3 days. BP agents also threw away his diabetes medication.”

Kino Border Initiative. 2022. “Congressional Year End Report 2023.” Https://Www.Kinoborderinitiative.Org/Annual-Report/. Kino Border Initiative. https://www.kinoborderinitiative.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/01/Congressional-Year-End-Report-2023_.pdf

Sector(s): CBP

Agency(ies): CBP

Event Type(s): Conditions of Arrest or Apprehension

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: Mexico

August 3,2023

Reporting on August 3, 2023, the Nogales-based Kino Border Initiative (KBI), recounted the case of a family seeking asylum, fleeing from Mexico. The mother of the family attempted to explain why she and her family needed to enter the U.S. but were not given the opportunity by Border Patrol. Border Patrol made her sign a voluntary removal form, stating that her refusal would result in five years of punishment and deportation to Mexico.

One agent said his supervisor “didn’t authorize asylum for them; that people from the state of Guanajuato aren’t eligible for asylum.”

Kino Border Initiative. 2022. “Congressional Year End Report 2023.” Https://Www.Kinoborderinitiative.Org/Annual-Report/. Kino Border Initiative. https://www.kinoborderinitiative.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/01/Congressional-Year-End-Report-2023_.pdf.

Sector(s): Border Patrol, CBP

Agency(ies): Border Patrol, CBP

Event Type(s): Compelling Signature of English-Language Documents, Denial of Access to Asylum, Denial of Protection to Most Vulnerable, Inappropriate Deportation, Lying or Deliberate Misleading, Return of Vulnerable Individuals

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: Mexico

August 3, 2023

Reporting on August 3, 2023, the Nogales-based Kino Border Initiative (KBI), recounted receiving consistent reports of Mexican asylum seekers being removed or returned without undergoing fear interviews. Among those affected are two Mexican families who were belittled, made fun of, and returned to Mexico without being asked their reasons for requesting asylum. 

Kino Border Initiative. 2022. “Congressional Year End Report 2023.” Https://Www.Kinoborderinitiative.Org/Annual-Report/. Kino Border Initiative. https://www.kinoborderinitiative.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/01/Congressional-Year-End-Report-2023_.pdf.

Sector(s): Border Patrol, Border-Wide, CBP

Agency(ies): Border Patrol, CBP

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

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: Mexico

July, 2023

Among cases cited in a July 2023 Human Rights First report was that of a Haitian asylum-seeking man to whom CBP officers denied access to emergency medical care, while harassing the humanitarian worker accompanying him.

Even during the Title 42 period, it was customary to be granted access to the Reynosa port of entry for medical emergencies requiring an ambulance. The humanitarian worker, however, was told by CBP officers at the limit line, “This isn’t our problem. If you want, you can bring him to wait in line.” At this time, other vulnerable individuals waiting to access the port of entry without an appointment were being forced to wait for over 72 hours in extreme heat. “If I bring him to wait in this line without medical care, he will die,” the humanitarian worker told CBP officers.

After advocacy by another local humanitarian worker, the ambulance transporting the critical case was approved to cross. Yet upon arrival at the port with the ambulance, the humanitarian worker and the Haitian man were harassed by CBP: “It’s you again?” the CBP officer greeted the humanitarian worker who tried to explain the situation but was silenced. A CBP nurse said, “You call this an emergency?” and removed the Haitian man’s oxygen tubes and ordered him to stand up, lowering him from the bed and off the ambulance. A CBP supervisor refused to provide the Haitian man with a wheelchair and instead forced him to walk and to carry his luggage, prohibiting the humanitarian worker from carrying it for him. The CBP supervisor accepted the man for processing and ordered the local humanitarian worker to leave, threatening her and saying she was prohibited from return:

“You’re already in trouble, so if you don’t want to have more problems, leave. You are no longer allowed in this area.”

— Asencio, Christina, Eleanor Acer, and Rebecca Gendelman. “Refugee Protection Travesty.” New York: Human Rights First, July 12, 2023. https://humanrightsfirst.org/library/refugee-protection-travesty/.

Sector(s): Laredo Field Office

Agency(ies): Office of Field Operations

Event Type(s): Abusive Language, Denial of Medical Care, Denial of Protection to Most Vulnerable, Intimidation of Humanitarian Workers

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: Advocate or Humanitarian Worker, Haiti, Medical Condition, Single Adult

July 2023

In 2022, President Joe Biden signed an executive order commanding federal law enforcement agencies to update their policies on use of force. In February, DHS updated its use-of-force policy to comply with the order. This updated policy limited the use of no-knock entries, required more frequent training for officers and staff, and banned the use of chokeholds unless deadly force was absolutely necessary. 

During April 2022 to July 2023, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) audited four DHS agencies, Customs and Border Protection, the Federal Protective Service, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the Secret Service, in order to survey their compliance with the policy.

In a report, GAO found that  DHS consistently under-reported use of force incidents. For example, in a situation where use of force is used multiple times, DHS only reports it as one count of force, rather than counting each individual incident. In one case involving the Federal Protective Service, the FPS “counted 27 separate use of forces across 15 reports as a single incident”.


After the report’s finding, GAO made two recommendations to  DHS. First, it called on the agency to create a guide on how its agencies should submit data for incidents where force is used multiple times. Secondly, it recommended that the secretary of DHS create and execute a plan in order to analyze the data submitted by the agency.  

In July, DHS agreed to follow the office’s recommendations, stating it would create a plan to analyze data by the end of 2023, issue guidance on its reporting by the beginning of 2024, and fully complete the data analysis on the use-of-force by 2025.

“Law Enforcement: DHS Should Strengthen Use of Force Data Collection and Analysis.” Washington: U.S. Government Accountability Office, July 24, 2023. https://www.gao.gov/products/gao-23-105927.
Lacy, Akela. “Federal Law Enforcement Agencies Routinely Undercount Use-of-Force Incidents.” The Intercept, July 27, 2023. https://theintercept.com/2023/07/27/dhs-use-of-force/.

Sector(s): CBP

Agency(ies): CBP, DHS

Event Type(s): Evading Oversight

Last Known Accountability Status: Under GAO Investigation

Victim Classification:

July 26, 2023

Reporting on July 26, 2023, the Nogales-based Kino Border Initiative (KBI), recounted a case of a migrant requesting asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border in El Paso after fleeing gang violence in Ecuador. After turning himself in to Border Patrol Agents, he was immediately expelled to Ecuador under Title 42, and forced to restart his journey North, attempting to seek asylum again in Nogales. 

Admiel [name changed to protect privacy] fled gang violence in Ecuador. He began receiving threatening messages from gangs and shortly after, survived an attack by gang members. As he was leaving work with a colleague, gang members began following them and then attacked them, beating Admiel with a bat until he lost consciousness and fell into a coma for 4 days, which killed his coworker. Admiel quickly moved to another part of the country and filed a police report with the help of a lawyer. Just days later, the gang killed the lawyer. Admiel fled to the US-Mexico border to seek asylum. He turned himself into BP agents in El Paso, but was immediately expelled to Ecuador under Title 42. He was forced to start the journey north again and is now attempting again to seek asylum in Nogales, now with the asylum ban in place. 

Https://Www.Kinoborderinitiative.Org/Annual-Report/. Kino Border Initiative. https://www.kinoborderinitiative.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/01/Congressional-Year-End-Report-2023_.pdf.

Sector(s): Border Patrol, CBP, El Paso

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

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

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: Ecuador

July 20, 2023

Reporting on July 20, 2023, the Nogales-based Kino Border Initiative (KBI), recounted five cases of Mexican asylum seekers being deported without fear interviews to assess their eligibility for an asylum process. Among cases cited, a young mother fleeing Southern Mexico with her son and other family members turned themselves into Border Patrol to request asylum. The mother and child were separated from the family members they were traveling with and were not asked their reason for requesting asylum. Border Patrol made the young mother sign for her voluntary return. She and her son were sent to Nogales, Sonora at 9 pm, in violation of bilateral agreements that required the repatriation of unaccompanied women between the hours of 8 am and 6:30 pm. The mother approached Border Patrol agents at the Nogales Port of Entry for help in seeking asylum and was told by an officer that “they couldn’t do anything”. 

Kino Border Initiative. 2022. “Congressional Year End Report 2023.” Https://Www.Kinoborderinitiative.Org/Annual-Report/. Kino Border Initiative. https://www.kinoborderinitiative.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/01/Congressional-Year-End-Report-2023_.pdf.

Sector(s): Border Patrol, CBP

Agency(ies): Border Patrol, CBP

Event Type(s): Compelling Signature of English-Language Documents, Denial of Access to Asylum, Inappropriate Deportation

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: Family Unit, Mexico

July 2023

Following a December 2022 investigation by the Project on Government Oversight and the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, which found more than 300 members of the “Oath Keepers” far-right militia group “described themselves as current or former employees” of DHS, Sen Edward J. Markey (D-Massachusetts) and Representatives Dan Goldman (D-New York) and Robert Garcia (D-California) led a letter to DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, signed by 66 members of Congress, “requesting an update on actions the Department has taken to address the threat of domestic violent extremism within the DHS.” The letter cites various incidents of collaboration with vigilante groups or approval of them from federal agents. 

As cited by The New York Times, Rep. Daniel S. Goldman (D-N.Y.) said in an interview, “There’s real urgency here.” Goldman said DHS’s acknowledgment that there were gaps in identifying extremist employees “creates real security issues and real credibility issues for the department, especially in light of the Oath Keepers’ role in January 6th and the convictions for seditious conspiracy.”

The letters gave Mayorkas a July 31 deadline to address 20 questions. Secretary Mayorkas has yet to respond.

—Jackman, Tom. “Democrats Press Homeland Security on Domestic Extremism in Workforce.” Washington Post, July 17, 2023. https://www.washingtonpost.com/dc-md-va/2023/07/17/domestic-terrorism-homeland-security-extremism-oathkeepers/.
—Markey, Edward. “Markey, Garcia, Goldman Lead Call for Update on Investigation Into Domestic Terrorism Threat Within the Department of Homeland Security | U.S. Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts.” U.S. Senate, July 17, 2023. https://www.markey.senate.gov/news/press-releases/markey-garcia-goldman-lead-call-for-update-on-investigation-into-domestic-terrorism-threat-within-the-department-of-homeland-security.
—Schwellenback, Nick. “Hundreds of Oath Keepers Have Worked for DHS, Leaked List Shows.” Project On Government Oversight, December 12, 2022. https://www.pogo.org/investigation/2022/12/hundreds-of-oath-keepers-have-worked-for-dhs-leaked-list-shows.

Sector(s): Border Patrol, Border-Wide, CBP

Agency(ies): CBP, DHS

Event Type(s): Vigilantism Tolerance or Collaboration

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification:

July 6, 2023

Reporting on July 6, 2023, the Nogales-based Kino Border Initiative (KBI), recounted a case of intimidation by Border Patrol agents to encourage a migrant’s signing of voluntary deportation, resulting in the separation of a grandfather from his two minor grandchildren who stayed in the U.S. under ORR’s custody. 

Among cases cited:

For instance, BP apprehended Alberto* [name changed to protect privacy] and his grandchildren who are fleeing violence. A BP agent asked him if he could return to Mexico to which he responded he could not. However, a second agent continued to ask with more pressure, “Can you return to your country, yes or no?”Alberto felt intimidated into saying yes. They asked nothing further and made him sign his deportation. Alberto and his 19 year old granddaughter were deported and separated from his 2 minor grandchildren, who stayed in the US under ORR’s custody.

Kino Border Initiative. 2022. “Congressional Year End Report 2023.” Https://Www.Kinoborderinitiative.Org/Annual-Report/. Kino Border Initiative. https://www.kinoborderinitiative.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/01/Congressional-Year-End-Report-2023_.pdf.

Sector(s): Border Patrol, CBP

Agency(ies): Border Patrol, CBP

Event Type(s): Denial of Access to Asylum, Denial of Protection to Most Vulnerable, Family Separation, Inappropriate Deportation, Lying or Deliberate Misleading

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: Family Unit, Mexico

July 3, 2023

A San Diego federal court indicted CBP Officer Leonard Darnell George on charges of “receiving bribes by a public official and two charges for conspiracy to traffic and distribute drugs. Prosecutors allege George allowed vehicles containing stashes of methamphetamine, fentanyl, cocaine and heroin to enter the U.S. from Mexico.” (Original link)

George was the lead defendant in a seven-person indictment on the drug charges, though he was accused separately of taking bribes and possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. The indictment alleges that George, known as “The Goalie,” began accepting bribes as early as October 2021 and continued to do so until at least June 2022.

If convicted, George faces a life sentence.

Prosecutors and court records indicated George had prior issues in the workplace including a May 6th incident leading to an administrative leave placement. The incident, according to San Diego Superior Court records, involved George alerting his CBP supervisor of self-harm. The San Diego police consequently detained him on a mental health hold, seized his firearms, and sought a gun violence restraining order that would prohibit him from purchasing firearms. In response to the incident, a CBP spokesperson noted that the agency was prohibited from discussing administrative actions, including discipline, as well as matters under litigation.

A second incident on record involved George and his brother, after one of their frequent trips to Mexico. According to court records and varying accounts, a dispute broke out at the San Ysidro Port of Entry after George said his brother left his wallet at home, and gave the officers a fake name and birth date for him, allegedly due to an arrest warrant for his brother. A verbal altercation broke out and the officers claimed George grew hostile and later threatened and intimidated them. The incident prompted four fellow CBP officers to seek harassment restraining orders against George, according to court records. Three of the four restraining orders were granted.

A third incident on record is from 2018, between the time he was hired to work for CBP and when he actually began his employment, where two of his colleagues filed a complaint with the local police department claiming George “threatened to hurt them”. George denied the incident and sought a restraining order against them. The incident resulted in George being placed on leave for three weeks and the judge denied his restraining order request.

—Green, Emily. “A Border Agent Was Just Charged With Taking Bribes from Cartels to Smuggle Drugs.” Vice, July 6, 2023. https://www.vice.com/en/article/5d9d48/a-border-agent-was-just-charged-with-taking-bribes-to-smuggle-drugs.

—Riggins, Alex. “CBP Officer Charged with Taking Bribes at Border Deemed Flight Risk in Drug Case – The San Diego Union-Tribune.” San Diego Union-Tribune, July 11, 2023. https://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/courts/story/2023-07-11/cbp-officer-george-detention-hearing.

—United States Department of Justice Southern District of California. “Customs and Border Protection Officer Indicted for Receiving Bribes, Allowing Drug-Laden Vehicles to Enter the U.S.,” July 3, 2023. https://www.justice.gov/usao-sdca/pr/customs-and-border-protection-officer-indicted-receiving-bribes-allowing-drug-laden.

Sector(s): San Diego Field Office

Agency(ies): Office of Field Operations

Event Type(s): Corruption, Lying or Deliberate Misleading, Threat of Violence

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

Victim Classification:

Late June, 2023

Reporting on June 22, 2023, the Nogales-based Kino Border Initiative (KBI), which maintains a migrant shelter in Nogales, Sonora, stated, “Over the past month, KBI has documented 7 cases of detention of asylum seekers who presented at the Nogales Port of Entry without a CBP One appointment, resulting in separation from their siblings, partners, and parents.”

Among cases cited:

– Upon presenting at the POE, CBP detained Magdalena [name changed to protect privacy] separating her from her aunt and cousins. They fled Michoacan after they could no longer afford to pay the weekly quota that organized crime demanded from the laundry business the family owned.

– CBP detained Federico [name changed to protect privacy] separating him from his sister and her husband, who he was traveling with. Federico and his family are fleeing violence in Guerrero, where he survived an attack that resulted in the loss of his leg.

— “June 22 update from KBI” (Nogales: Kino Border Initiative, June 22, 2023).

Sector(s): Tucson Field Office

Agency(ies): Office of Field Operations

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

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: Disability, Family Unit

June 23, 2023

A report by the International Rescue Committee, produced in coordination with six U.S., Mexican, and international NGOs, noted that:

Refugee Health Alliance, an NGO that provides health services to migrants in Mexico, reported that CBP officers rejected requests for humanitarian parole of individuals in Tijuana for whom its staff had provided letters to document their urgent medical needs.

— “Limits on Access to Asylum After Title 42: One Month of Monitoring U.S.-Mexico Border Ports of Entry.” United States: International Rescue Committee, June 23, 2023. https://www.rescue.org/report/limits-access-asylum-after-title-42-one-month-monitoring-us-mexico-border-ports-entry.

Sector(s): San Diego Field Office

Agency(ies): Office of Field Operations

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

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification:

June 22, 2023

 Reporting on June 22, 2023, the Nogales-based Kino Border Initiative (KBI), recounted the expansion of the U.S. administration’s immigration deterrence policies and its effects on migrants detained. 

Among cases cited:

Nicol*[name changed to protect privacy]  spent 3 months in detention, where she reported that guards pushed her and subjected her to inhumane detention conditions. At 3 am, detainees were forced to work in the kitchen and if they didn’t, they would be made to sleep on the floor without sheets or blankets. She was deported without her personal belongings and still in a jail uniform.

Kino Border Initiative. 2022. “Congressional Year End Report 2023.” Https://Www.Kinoborderinitiative.Org/Annual-Report/. Kino Border Initiative. https://www.kinoborderinitiative.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/01/Congressional-Year-End-Report-2023_.pdf.

Sector(s): Border Patrol, CBP

Agency(ies): Border Patrol, CBP

Event Type(s): Conditions in Custody, Denial of Protection to Most Vulnerable, Disregard of Public Health, Inappropriate Deportation, Non-Return of Belongings

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: Female, Single Adult

Mid-May 2023

According to a report by the International Rescue Committee, produced in coordination with six U.S., Mexican, and international NGOs, “in the initial days of monitoring after the Title 42 policy ended, CBP officers at Otay Mesa and Paso del Norte were observed directly turning away asylum seekers without CBP One appointments, telling them they would not be processed.”

The report added, “A CBP officer on the Paso del Norte bridge told a group of asylum seekers without CBP One appointments that asylum without a prearranged appointment ‘doesn’t exist anymore.’”

— “Limits on Access to Asylum After Title 42: One Month of Monitoring U.S.-Mexico Border Ports of Entry.” United States: International Rescue Committee, June 23, 2023. https://www.rescue.org/report/limits-access-asylum-after-title-42-one-month-monitoring-us-mexico-border-ports-entry.

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

Agency(ies): Office of Field Operations

Event Type(s): Denial of Access to Asylum

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification:

May 13, 2023

Shortly after the termination of the Title 42 policy and implementation of the Biden administration’s new asylum rule, non-governmental observers on the Paso del Norte Bridge between Ciudad Juárez and El Paso recorded “that individuals without CBP One appointments were not being processed and witnessed CBP tell individuals that asylum without a prearranged appointment ‘doesn’t exist anymore.’”

— “Limits on Access to Asylum After Title 42: One Month of Monitoring U.S.-Mexico Border Ports of Entry.” United States: International Rescue Committee, June 23, 2023. https://www.rescue.org/report/limits-access-asylum-after-title-42-one-month-monitoring-us-mexico-border-ports-entry.

Sector(s): El Paso Field Office

Agency(ies): Office of Field Operations

Event Type(s): Denial of Access to Asylum

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification:

May 11, 2023

Reporting on May 11, 2023, the Nogales-based Kino Border Initiative (KBI), recounted the case of a migrant who was told by Border Patrol Agents that a fear interview was scheduled for him to explain his case to a U.S. official, but it did not occur, and he was deported. On the day of his expulsion, the migrant was handcuffed at the hands, waist, and feet, asking numerous times for the handcuffs to be loosened. 

“I never in my life have been treated like that: I never thought I’d be treated like a criminal upon arriving in the US,” Henry [name changed to protect privacy] said. He arrived at KBI the day after his expulsion and still had indentations on his wrists from the handcuffs.

Kino Border Initiative. 2022. “Congressional Year End Report 2023.” Https://Www.Kinoborderinitiative.Org/Annual-Report/. Kino Border Initiative. https://www.kinoborderinitiative.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/01/Congressional-Year-End-Report-2023_.pdf.

Sector(s): Border Patrol, CBP

Agency(ies): Border Patrol, CBP

Event Type(s): Conditions of Arrest or Apprehension, Denial of Access to Asylum, Denial of Protection to Most Vulnerable, Inappropriate Deportation, Lying or Deliberate Misleading

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: Single Adult

April 8, 2023

An analysis from the American Immigration Council’s Dara Lind recounted the case of a father who was killed in front of his children in Tijuana, several weeks after being turned away at the port of entry. This case is one of several testimonies collected by the American Immigration Council, as part of a lawsuit challenging CBP’s continued turnbacks of asylum seekers at ports of entry.

On April 8, the Mexican family came to the San Ysidro port of entry in Tijuana and asked to be let into the United States to seek asylum, as they were fleeing immediate cartel violence in Mexico. The father had been shot and his arm was bleeding. According to the mother, their family begged the U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers to let them through the gates.

“We showed CBP officers my husband’s bleeding wound and explained the immediate danger we were in,” [the wife] testifie[d]. The officers refused. They told the family that since they didn’t have an appointment for the day via the CBP One app, they had no right to flee the cartel.

The family finally got a CBP One appointment in July 2023, but they had to exclude the father, since on May 1, while the family headed to the Tijuana airport in an attempt to flee to Canada, they were attacked again, resulting in a shooting that killed the father of the family. He died in front of his wife, their 5-year-old daughter and 4-year-old son.

— Lind, Dara. “CBP’s Continued ‘Turnbacks’ Are Sending Asylum Seekers Back to Lethal Danger.” Immigration Impact (blog), August 10, 2023. https://immigrationimpact.com/2023/08/10/cbp-turnback-policy-lawsuit-danger/.

Sector(s): San Diego Field Office

Agency(ies): Office of Field Operations

Event Type(s): Denial of Access to Asylum, Denial of Protection to Most Vulnerable, Endangerment

Last Known Accountability Status: Lawsuit or Claim Filed

Victim Classification: Family Unit, Mexico

Early April 2023

On April 2nd, 2023, Customs and Border Patrol Agents (CBP) fatally shot Joel Inbody, a 32-year-old man from West Seneca, New Mexico. Around 8:37pm, a Border Patrol agent began following Inbody’s white Nissan Rogue after it failed to completely stop at a U.S. Border Patrol checkpoint located on Interstate 10. 

After agents began following Inbody, they deployed a spike strip that popped his vehicle’s tires and Inbody exited his car and began walking away on foot. In the video released by CBP, agents attempted to persuade Inbody to release the wooden stick he was carrying and order him to the ground. 

As Inbody continued to walk and ignore their requests, agents deployed their electric tasers in an attempt to subdue him. These attempts failed. After Inbody swung his stick at approaching agents, agents fired. CBP’s official report lists that agents fired at least 16 rounds, and Inbody was officially declared deceased at 5:16 am on April 3rd. 
According to Joel Inbody’s mother, Kim Lewis, Inbody suffers from bipolar disorder and PTSD. She suspects that he had mental health issues during his encounter with border agents, and questions why agents failed to recognize this. Now Lewis, along with her attorney Tom Casey, believes agents could have handled the incident differently and are waiting for answers from CBP as they continue their investigation.

Moretti, Luke, and Daniel Telvock. “West Seneca Man Fatally Shot by Border Agents in New Mexico Desert | Part 1.” News 4 Buffalo, September 25, 2023. https://www.wivb.com/news/investigates/west-seneca-man-fatally-shot-by-border-agents-in-new-mexico-desert-part-1/.
Defense Visual Information Distribution Service. “Use of Force Incident, Las Cruces, New Mexico. April 2, 2023,” May 2, 2023. https://www.dvidshub.net/video/881873/use-force-incident-las-cruces-new-mexico-april-2-2023.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection. “CBP Releases Body-Worn Camera Footage from Agent-Involved Shooting | U.S. Customs and Border Protection,” May 2, 2023. https://www.cbp.gov/newsroom/national-media-release/cbp-releases-body-worn-camera-footage-agent-involved-shooting.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection. “Agents Fire Service Weapons on Non-Compliant Man after He Strikes Agent with Wooden Club; Man Dies at Scene,” April 8, 2023. https://www.cbp.gov/newsroom/speeches-and-statements/agents-fire-service-weapons-non-compliant-man-after-he-strikes.

Sector(s): Border Patrol, CBP

Agency(ies): Border Patrol, CBP

Event Type(s): Fatal Encounter

Last Known Accountability Status: Under DHS Review

Victim Classification: Medical Condition, Single Adult

Mid-March, 2023

Reporting on March 16, 2023, the Nogales-based Kino Border Initiative (KBI) recounted a case of expulsion of vulnerable asylum seekers with CBP One appointments without a chance to talk to an asylum officer, and confiscation of documentation in CBP custody. 

William and Obelia [names changed to protect privacy] each had fled Venezuela and met each other on the journey. In Ciudad Juarez, they were able to schedule an appointment through CBPOne for March 12, but in Nogales, Sonora. They had to travel atop La Bestia (cargo train) to get to the appointment. They arrived at 12 pm for their appointment and each explained that they had lost their original IDs while traveling through the Darien Gap. They each had photocopies of their IDs that family members had sent to them after having lost their originals. The CBP agent detained them both at the Nogales POE – Obelia until 8 pm and William until 3 am. The CBP agent confiscated Obelia’s copy of her ID and the paper she had printed with the appointment confirmation. He said, “Do you think I’d let you enter with this?” and, “You crossed through 8 countries to get here- why didn’t you seek asylum in one of those countries? Why the US?” The agents rejected them both for not having original IDs and expelled them to the streets of Nogales, Obelia at 8 pm and William at 3 am.

— “March 16 update from KBI” (Nogales: Kino Border Initiative, March 16, 2023).

Sector(s): Tucson Field Office

Agency(ies): Office of Field Operations

Event Type(s): Confiscation of Documents, Dangerous Deportation, Denial of Access to Asylum

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: Single Adult, Venezuela

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

November 2022

In November 2022, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Inspector General (OIG) conducted unannounced inspections of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) facilities. OIG personnel inspected two facilities of Border Patrol’s El Paso sector and one CBP Office of Field Operations port of entry. On September 15th, 2023, OIG published a 40-page report of its findings. 

The visits took place at a time of heavy migration to the El Paso sector. At the time of the inspection, Border Patrol had 1,903 people in custody at its El Paso processing center (M-CPC). Inspectors interviewed a random sample of 10 percent of those being held.

The inspection broadly revealed that the Border Patrol facilities met Transport, Escort, Detention, and Search (TEDS) standards to provide basic amenities including drinking water, meals, access to toilets, hygienic supplies, and bedding. 

However, CBP was out of compliance with detention time requirements, as well as the provision of regularly scheduled meals and showers. More than half of those surveyed were held in CBP custody for more than the 72 hours required in non-emergency circumstances.

TEDS standards require facilities to provide showers to juveniles at most every 48 hours and to adults at most every 72 hours while in CBP custody. While detainees were provided with showers during intake, they were not provided with showers every 48 or 72 hours thereafter. Detainees were also not given hygienic materials like toothpaste and toothbrushes. According to a CBP official, the facility faced limited shower capacity, insufficient staffing, and overcrowding that prevented officers from providing these required showers and supplies. 

The inspection also revealed data integrity issues in Border Patrol’s electronic records system, E3. During an inspection of a sample of twenty custody logs, OIG found gaps in entries of when meals, blankets, and hygiene items were provided. When attempting to locate a detainee for interviews, CBP officials were unable to locate the person due to E3 discrepancies.

In a February 2023 follow-up visit, at a time when the El Paso sector was receiving far fewer migrants, OIG inspected the facility once again and considered all of its recommendations resolved.

—“Results of Unannounced Inspections of CBP Holding Facilities in the El Paso Area” (Washington: DHS Office of Inspector-General, September 15, 2023) https://www.oig.dhs.gov/sites/default/files/assets/2023-09/OIG-23-50-Sep23.pdf.

Sector(s): Border Patrol, CBP, El Paso, El Paso Field Office

Agency(ies): Border Patrol, CBP

Event Type(s): Conditions in Custody, Denial of Food or Water

Last Known Accountability Status: Cleared by DHS OIG

Victim Classification: Family Unit, Single Adult

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: