19 Records of Alleged Abusive or Improper Conduct in “El Paso Field Office”

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:

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:

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:

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

December 2021

December 2021 guidance for implementation of the “Remain in Mexico” (RMX) program specified that individuals should be exempted from the program if they suffer from mental or physical health issues or disabilities; vulnerabilities from advanced age; or risk of harm due to sexual orientation or gender identity (original link). Despite that, a January 2022 Human Rights First report, discussing implementation of RMX in El Paso, reported several cases of CBP returning vulnerable people to Mexico.

– In December 2021, a gay Venezuelan asylum seeker was returned to Ciudad Juárez under RMX despite having informed CBP officers of his sexual orientation. While in CBP custody the man endured harassment because of his sexual orientation and asked multiple CBP officers if there were any protections for members of the LGBTQ community but was told “no.” The man reported to Human Rights First that he fears harm in Mexico due to his sexual orientation.

– A man with cancer was returned to Ciudad Juárez under RMX, even though he and his attorneys had informed DHS of his condition. As of mid-December 2021, the Border Project reported that DHS said that the agency was attempting to locate the man in Mexico.

– A Nicaraguan asylum seeker who suffers from chronic migraines was nevertheless returned to Ciudad Juárez under RMX in December 2021. The man told Human Rights First that CBP officers did not ask him any questions about his medical condition. The man was returned to Mexico without his medication, which CBP officers discarded while he was in custody. He has suffered several migraines while stranded in a shelter in Mexico.

The Border Project also identified dozens of individuals who CBP officers in El Paso failed to properly exclude from RMX in December 2021 based on DHS’s own screening criteria, including a man living with HIV; a man experiencing pain and limited use of his hand because the Mexican cartel that kidnapped him had amputated part of his finger on a video call with the man’s family to extort money from them; and a dozen LGBTQ individuals, one of whom had been raped and threatened with death in Mexico due to his sexual orientation.

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.

— Adolfo Flores, Hamed Aleaziz, “US Border Authorities Have Incorrectly Placed Immigrants With Medical Conditions In The Relaunched ‘Remain In Mexico’ Program, Attorneys Say” (BuzzFeed, December 17, 2021) https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/adolfoflores/us-border-authorities-wrongly-sought-to-force-asylum.

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

Agency(ies): CBP

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

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: Kidnap Victim, LGBTQ, Medical Condition, Nicaragua, Sexual Abuse Victim, Single Adult, Venezuela

December 2021

December 2021 guidance for implementation of the “Remain in Mexico” (RMX) program specified that individuals should be exempted from the program if they suffer from mental or physical health issues or disabilities; vulnerabilities from advanced age; or risk of harm due to sexual orientation or gender identity (original link). Nonetheless, a January 2022 Human Rights First report found that CBP officers, even during the initial days of RMX, were not performing required health screenings.

CBP officers are also failing to ask health screening questions and falsely recording on the “Initial Health Interview Questionnaire” that migrants and asylum seekers placed in RMX have reported that they do not have any serious medical conditions. None of the 18 individuals in RMX who Human Rights First interviewed in Ciudad Juárez in December 2021 had been asked the 11 health screening questions on the form. Some were not asked any health-related questions, while others said that CBP officers inquired only generally about health issues.

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): Lying or Deliberate Misleading, Return of Vulnerable Individuals

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: Single Adult

November 13, 2021

A report from the Border Network for Human Rights included the testimony of “A.V.R.N.,” who had prescription medication taken away by CBP Field Operations personnel at the Santa Teresa Port of Entry in New Mexico, west of El Paso.

In the past months, I had surgery on my leg. On Nov. 13, I went for a follow-up to Juarez so they could remove the nails from my leg. While at the doctor’s, I was prescribed Tramadol with Ketorolac for the pain because I had severe pain. I bought a box with ten pills.

At the Santa Teresa Port of Entry, the officer, who seemed to be of Latin origin, asked me if I was bringing back money or medicine supposedly because he saw me on crutches. I told him I did have medicine with me and showed him the prescription.

The officer then sent me to secondary inspection and told me to step out of the car. After struggling, I was able to get out of the car, and three more officers showed up. An Anglo, a Hispanic female officer, and one Hispanic male officer around 50-60 years old. This last officer was the one who did not allow me to bring in my medicine. The other two officers kept asking him to allow me to bring my medication since I had a prescription and it was only ten pills, which I really needed. But he refused, stating that the prescription was not valid in the U.S. and that the pills were like bringing in weed.

That night I was in so much pain because I could only take Tylenol for my pain.

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

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

Sector(s): El Paso Field Office

Agency(ies): Office of Field Operations

Event Type(s): Denial of Medical Care, Non-Return of Belongings

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: Single Adult

November 3, 2021

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

I, L. L., want to tell you what happened to me on Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2021. I went to Ciudad Juárez to buy medicine for my son. When I got to the Paso del Norte Port of Entry, the CBP officer asked me, “why did you go to Juarez?” I showed him the medicine that I bought with the prescription. The CBP officer told me I needed to go through a secondary inspection.

The CBP officer took me to a room with two female officers. One of them touched my private parts in a very strange way; the officer was a brunette, Hispanic, and robust woman who spoke to me in Spanish. The officer said, “tell me what you have.” I told her I only brought medicine for my son. The CBP officer then asked me to squat. When I questioned why I had to do that, the CBP officer stated it was a routine check, that for every ten people who cross, they stop one and check them this way.

I felt awful during and after the search, especially with the way they searched me. I am an American citizen, and I have never had any problems with anyone. I am afraid to go through a port of entry again because of that experience.

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

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

Sector(s): El Paso Field Office

Agency(ies): Office of Field Operations

Event Type(s): Wrongful Strip Search

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

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

October 17, 2021

A report from the Border Network for Human Rights included the testimony of “J.D.” (identified in news coverage as “Jesus Francisco Davila, 71, a citizen of both Mexico and the United States”) about an abusive interaction with CBP Field Operations personnel at El Paso’s Zaragoza (Ysleta) Port of Entry.

On Oct, 17, at around 3 p.m., I was going through the Zaragoza port of entry. I was hurrying because my wife was waiting for me on the other side of the bridge in El Paso, Texas. When I arrived at the first checkpoint, where the officer was revising the documents, I accidentally showed him my Mexican voter registration card (INE) instead of my border crossing visa. When the officer saw it, he became angry, questioned what my INE card was, and pushed me.

I fell on my back; I tried to cover my head so I wouldn’t hit it. I scratched my elbow and hurt my back. An officer who was close by intervened to stop his colleague from hurting me. Meanwhile, the officer that pushed me was obviously furious and looked like he wanted to hurt me.

I went to speak to a supervisor. They asked if they could take my blood pressure and call an ambulance since it was really high. I was told that an individual was going to take note of what happened to me. But this person never took any notes and showed no interest in what had happened.

They never did anything. Instead, they gave me a flyer with a number I could call later. But I was not interested in doing anything. I just don’t ever want this to happen again.

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

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

Sector(s): El Paso Field Office

Agency(ies): Office of Field Operations

Event Type(s): Use of Force

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

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

August 5, 2021

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

Today (8/5/2021), I went to Ciudad Juárez with my 5-month-old son, Nathan, because he had an appointment with the pediatrician at the Family Clinic at 1:30 p.m. for a stomach infection and flu. When I returned to El Paso, I arrived at the Santa Fe bridge around 2:20 p.m. When it was my turn to see the officer, he told me he would take my photo, which I agreed to. He asked for my documents; I gave him my Texas identification. When he asked for my son’s papers, I showed him the papers from our visit to the clinic, which had my full name and my son’s social security number. He told me that I would have to go in for a routine check-up. I told him that was fine; I had no illegal things with me.

They put me in the inspection room with three officers, two females and a male officer sitting on the computer. The male officer stated that my son did not look like me and that my son’s papers were invalid. He asked me, “how do we verify that he is your son? We would have to do a DNA test, and that would take a week.” Therefore, he said they were going to take my son to a detention place. I asked him where they were going to take him. The officer, an older man, mockingly told me that he would put him in a cage. The way he expressed himself was not funny to me at all.

They told me to take my money and all my belongings and put them inside my son’s diaper bag. One of the female officers checked the diaper bag, put it in a blue box, and then took my son. The other female officer inspected me thoroughly. She put me against the wall and told me to lower my pants to my knees. She physically checked my whole body. She put her hands under my bra and touched my parts in front and behind.

The male officer told me that, since I couldn’t prove that he was my son, they would accuse me of child trafficking and arrest me. I told him that I knew a person from CPS who could verify that the child is indeed my son and that he is an American citizen. At that moment, he turned around, looked at me, and repeated, “CPS?”

The officer then gave me back my documents and told me to leave. He said that he did not want to see me crossing the border with my son, that the next time, they would take him away from me. One of the female officers accompanied me to the door to leave. I was detained for approximately 40 minutes.

The truth is that I felt denigrated because of the way they abused my rights and those of my son. I was only taking him to the doctor; I was not doing anything illegal. I showed him the doctor’s prescription, but he did not mind exposing my son to a closed place where there were more people and possible contagious viruses. My son is a baby; he was sick.

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

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

Sector(s): El Paso Field Office

Agency(ies): Office of Field Operations

Event Type(s): Abuse of Minor, Abusive Language, Disregard of Public Health, Wrongful Strip Search

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: Accompanied Child, Family Unit, Female

May 12, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

Sector(s): El Paso Field Office

Agency(ies): Office of Field Operations

Event Type(s): Wrongful Strip Search

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

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

October 14, 2020

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

On Oct. 14, between 4 and 5 p.m., I crossed the international port of entry. At the port of entry, the officer asked me the reason for my visit to Juarez, to which I responded that I had gone to see a dentist. He asked me to take off my mask and my glasses, then asked me if I had something to declare. I responded I didn’t. He also asked me when was the last time I had been to Juarez. I told him I did not remember, possibly three months ago.

That bothered the officer. He yelled at me, “How are you not able to remember!” Then the officer asked if I had ever had problems. I assumed the question was if I had ever had any issues with the police in the United States, so I answered I had not.

He then called another officer and claimed I was lying to them. They said that I had an issue with immigration back in 2000. I did have an issue 20 years ago, but I had applied for my legal residency and I was approved. I thought it was a thing of the past.

The officer never specified if I had immigration issues; it was just a misunderstanding on my end. However, they took my fingerprints and my picture.

She called another officer and took me into a room. She yelled at me; told me she was going to check me. I thought she was referring to my purse, but no. She yelled at me to raise my hands against the wall and began to inspect me and touch my private parts. She smacked my left thigh and yelled at me to open my legs further. She asked if there was anything in between, referring to my vagina, and I said no.

I was embarrassed, harassed, and sexually assaulted without a reason, motive, or warning. I did nothing wrong or illegal to deserve this treatment. After the officer searched me, she went through my purse and travel bag and found nothing illegal. She questioned me about some pills that I had, and I told her they were for my migraine.

She was yelling at me the whole time, trying to intimidate me, embarrass me, and harass me. Throughout this whole situation, there was another female officer inside the room just looking at us. In the end, the last officer told me that every time I cross the border, I have to declare that I’ve been deported. I was never told this before; I took it as intimidation.

I was treated like a criminal, like an animal that didn’t deserve respect over a simple misunderstanding. None of the officers were wearing masks. They took my fingerprints, took my picture, told me to take my shoes and mask off, and exposed me to potentially catching Covid-19.

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

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

Sector(s): El Paso Field Office

Agency(ies): Office of Field Operations

Event Type(s): Abusive Language, Disregard of Public Health, Wrongful Strip Search

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

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

August 30, 2020

Politico Magazine published an account by Tianna Spears, a Black U.S. diplomat who had been assigned to the U.S. consulate in Ciudad Juárez. She described CBP officers subjecting her to regular, blatant racial profiling whenever she crossed back into El Paso. “[O]fficers in primary inspection still made sarcastic comments, cruel jokes and belittling jabs implying I was not a U.S. diplomat, not a U.S. citizen and had stolen my own car.”

One time, an officer told me, which I wrote down: Just because you say you work at the consulate does not mean that you are not smuggling drugs into the country. I asked him to explain.He responded, I don’t know, but I do know what drug dealers and smugglers look like. He stepped forward, crossed his arms, looked at me up and down, and said: You know what I mean.

Spears said that as of August 2020, 18 months after complaining to CBP’s upper management, she got no response to her complaint from CBP’s Office of Professional Responsibility.

— Tianna Spears, “I Was a U.S. Diplomat. Customs and Border Protection Only Cared That I Was Black.” (Washington: Politico Magazine, August 30, 2020) https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2020/08/30/black-us-diplomat-customs-border-protection-cbp-detained-harassed-325676.

Sector(s): El Paso Field Office

Agency(ies): Office of Field Operations

Event Type(s): Abusive Language, Racial Discrimination or Profiling

Last Known Accountability Status: Under OPR Investigation, Unknown

Victim Classification: Black, U.S. Citizen or Resident

Early May 2020

The El Paso Times (May 5) and Arizona Public Media (May 7) separately reported that Border Patrol agents and CBP officers had been neglecting to wear face masks or practice social distancing in their interactions with the public during the COVID-19 pandemic’s early months. “There is a time and place for the mask. Maybe it doesn’t suit to everyone’s desires, but people should be given an option. We’re still all American citizens,” John Monahan, a CBP officer and union representative in El Paso, told the El Paso Times.

— Lauren Villagran, “Border patrol agents, officers say they have access to PPE. So why aren’t they all using it?” (El Paso: El Paso Times, May 5, 2020) https://www.elpasotimes.com/story/news/2020/05/05/cbp-border-officers-lax-using-protective-gear-coronavirus-covid-19/3079923001/.

— Alisa Reznick, “Border residents: Border Patrol agents not wearing protective gear at checkpoints” (Arizona: Arizona Public Media, May 7, 2020) https://www.azpm.org/s/76269-border-residents-border-patrol-agents-not-wearing-protective-gear-at-checkpoints/.

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

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

Event Type(s): Disregard of Public Health

Last Known Accountability Status: No Steps Taken

Victim Classification: