13 Records of Alleged Abusive or Improper Conduct in “Tucson Field Office”

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

September 27, 2021

A Kino Border Initiative release reports:

Karla [not real name], another migrant organizer, described her experience being denied asylum three times. She said, “I went to the Tijuana border looking for help and protection asking immigration for asylum. They rejected me, humiliated me, and denied me asylum. I cried together with my children, pleaded with them and asked for their help to be able to request asylum. When they saw me cry, they told me not to because not even with my tears was I going to convince them and that I better step aside because I was in the way. As I cried for help, they laughed at me and my children. I tried to seek asylum in three different ports of entry along the border and I have always been rejected, humiliated. They threatened to call the Mexican authorities on me who also humiliated us.”

— “CBP closed port of entry after denying access to migrant family seeking asylum, accompanied by Tucson Bishop Edward Weisenburger” (Nogales: Kino Border Initiative, September 27, 2021) https://www.kinoborderinitiative.org/press-release-cbp-closed-port-of-entry-after-denying-access-to-migrant-family-seeking-asylum-accompanied-by-tucson-bishop-edward-weisenburger/.

Sector(s): Tucson 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

September 27, 2021

CBP officers shut the gates of Nogales, Arizona’s DeConcini port of entry as a family, accompanied by Tucson Bishop Edward Weisenburger, approached to seek asylum. A Kino Border Initiative release described the scene.

Laura fled southern Mexico with her two kids, her brother and his family- after her husband was shot by the local mafia. Laura and her family, accompanied by the Bishop, went through the turnstile at the DeConcini port of entry only to be turned away in tears.

Chelsea Sachau, attorney with the Florence Project, who accompanied the family recounts the event, “The family reasserted their request to be processed and to seek asylum. They asked to speak to someone else [other than the CBP officials], a supervisor, and then the CBP officers entered the building and locked both doors. They tested to make sure that both doors were locked, and then they slowly started lowering the gate to shut down the entire port of entry because this family, accompanied by faith leaders, and a legal observer, asked him for their right to seek asylum.” Laura and her family were forced to step back as the gate lowered onto where they were standing. Sachau continues, “There was no warning given to anyone, neither ourselves or anyone in line who had papers to enter into the US.” The DeConcini port of entry was shut down for about an hour to anyone trying to cross into the U.S.

— “CBP closed port of entry after denying access to migrant family seeking asylum, accompanied by Tucson Bishop Edward Weisenburger” (Nogales: Kino Border Initiative, September 27, 2021) https://www.kinoborderinitiative.org/press-release-cbp-closed-port-of-entry-after-denying-access-to-migrant-family-seeking-asylum-accompanied-by-tucson-bishop-edward-weisenburger/.

Sector(s): Tucson 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

June 16, 2021

A report from the Kino Border Initiative (KBI) and NETWORK included a Jamaican migrant’s account of violent treatment by Border Patrol agents at Nogales, Arizona’s DeConcini port of entry.

A Jamaican man entered the United States at a port of entry to ask for asylum and was immediately confronted by two Border Patrol agents who physically attacked him. They knocked him to the ground with a plastic barrier and began beating and punching him. One agent put his foot on his neck as he lay on the ground. The agents dragged him across concrete into an office at the port of entry. A third agent told the two that what they were doing was wrong. The other agents dismissed her objection. The Jamaican man was then handcuffed to a bench. Later, he was taken to another room where he was photographed and fingerprinted. When the agents asked why he was there, the Jamaican man said he was seeking asylum. The agents asked where he was from and when he said Jamaica. The agents said, “this is what a bunch of you have been doing (running into the port of entry), you are getting out of here.” They took him to the Mexican immigration office. His friends were in Mexico waiting to see if he got across successfully. The Mexican immigration officers took photos of all their passports and asked them to go to Kino Border Initiative.

KBI filed a June 24, 2021 complaint with the DHS Office on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL) and the CBP Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR). On August 6, CRCL emailed “saying they received the complaint and forwarded it to the OIG. No details were provided about disciplinary actions for officers or recourse for victims of abuse.”

Due Process Denied (United States: Kino Border Initiative (KBI) and NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice, August 2021) https://networklobby.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/KINO-NETWORK-CBP-Abuses-consolidated.pdf.

Sector(s): Tucson, Tucson Field Office

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

Event Type(s): Conditions of Arrest or Apprehension, Denial of Protection to Most Vulnerable, Use of Force

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

Victim Classification: Black, Jamaica, Single Adult

Mid-June, 2021

The Kino Border Initiative reported about the separation of a Honduran Garífuna family whose asylum claim had gained an exception to the Title 42 expulsion policy:

Last week, a Honduran father of 5 whose wife is 3 months pregnant was detained by ICE as he and his family were processed through the consortium process at the downtown Nogales port of entry. The father does not have any criminal history in the US, and Spanish is the family’s second language, as they are part of the Garífuna indigenous community in Honduras.

As the mother shared in her testimony at the interfaith #SaveAsylum event this week, when the father was separated from his family, the CBP officer assured his wife that he would only be detained a day or two, but he has now been separated from his family for over a week.

His wife, who is stranded waiting for her husband’s release at a shelter in Tucson with their 5 children, attempted to set an appointment to visit her husband at La Palma, but was unable to do so because the visitation phone system is all in English. She has not received any clarity about when her husband will be released, and a week after his detention had not been able to make any contact since she does not have money to put in his commissary.

— “June 24 Update From KBI” (Nogales: Kino Border Initiative, June 24, 2021).

Sector(s): Tucson Field Office

Agency(ies): ICE, Office of Field Operations

Event Type(s): Family Separation, Lying or Deliberate Misleading

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

Victim Classification: Black, Family Unit, Honduras, Indigenous

Early June, 2021

The Kino Border Initiative (KBI) reported:

A woman from Mexico and her four children, one of whom is a U.S. citizen, presented themselves at the port of entry and asked for asylum. The officers present informed them that they had to come to KBI to be granted asylum, when an NGO clearly has no such authority. Unbelievably, this is only one of multiple instances in which US authorities have told asylum seekers to come to KBI for asylum.

— “June 10 Update From KBI” (Nogales: Kino Border Initiative, June 10, 2021).

Sector(s): Tucson Field Office

Agency(ies): Office of Field Operations

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

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

Victim Classification: Family Unit, U.S. Citizen or Resident

May 16, 2021

A report from the Kino Border Initiative (KBI) and NETWORK reported a Mexican asylum seeker’s allegations that CBP used violence during one of his several unsuccessful attempts to ask for protection at a Nogales, Arizona port of entry.

A Mexican man presented himself at the DeConcini Port of Entry seeking asylum several times over a period of two days. He received threats that made him believe his life was in danger and even survived an attempted kidnapping in Nogales.

On May 16, he ran toward the port of entry, near where cars were crossing because he was afraid of his pursuers. CBP officers apprehended him there. He was punched, kicked, and beaten by about twelve officers. He told them that he wanted asylum because there were people in Mexico who were trying to kill him. CBP did not give him an opportunity to talk to anyone else and he was immediately expelled back to Mexico.

CBP called the Mexican police, who never came. They then called the Mexican Red Cross to take him to the General Hospital of Nogales in Sonora. The hospital did not take care of his wounds.

When released from the hospital, he tried again to enter the United States at the port of entry because people were following him. He tried asking for asylum to the 9 agents who detained him. However, the agents told him he had no right to be in the United States and asked him to be silent. The agents then took him to a room and questioned him but did not ask him about asylum. He was then expelled back to Mexico again.

KBI filed a May 25, 2021 complaint with the DHS Office on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL) and the CBP Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR). On June 2, CRCL emailed that “they received the complaint and forwarded it to the OIG. No details were provided about disciplinary actions for officers or recourse for victims of abuse.”

Due Process Denied (United States: Kino Border Initiative (KBI) and NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice, August 2021) https://networklobby.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/KINO-NETWORK-CBP-Abuses-consolidated.pdf.

Sector(s): Tucson Field Office

Agency(ies): Office of Field Operations

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

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

Victim Classification: Kidnap Victim, Mexico, Single Adult

November 2, 2020

A report from the Kino Border Initiative (KBI) and NETWORK discussed the experience of a Guatemalan woman who crossed the border and was “detained by CBP” with her one-year-old daughter and eight-year-old son.

At Tucson station, when they were being transferred, the Guatemalan woman asked where she was being taken; the CBP agent replied she did not know, but that they might take the woman’s fear declaration at the next station. The woman was taken to Nogales. The woman asked an agent to take her fear declaration, but the agent said CBP doesn’t do that in Nogales. Then the woman asked another agent who gave her food to take her fear declaration. That CBP agent didn’t speak Spanish and asked another agent to come over to interpret. She told them that a family member had been killed in Guatemala and that she also feared returning to Mexico as she had been robbed there. The agents told her that her case doesn’t matter since there are gangs in the U.S. too. The woman and her children were expelled to Mexico soon after.

KBI filed a November 6, 2020 complaint with the DHS Office on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL) and the CBP Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR). On January 4, 2021, CRCL emailed “that they received the complaint, recorded it in their database, and no further actions would be taken. No details were provided about disciplinary actions for officers or recourse for victims of abuse.”

Due Process Denied (United States: Kino Border Initiative (KBI) and NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice, August 2021) https://networklobby.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/KINO-NETWORK-CBP-Abuses-consolidated.pdf.

Sector(s): Tucson, Tucson Field Office

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

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

Last Known Accountability Status: Complaint Filed with CRCL, Complaint Filed with OPR, No Further Action

Victim Classification: Family Unit, Guatemala

Late September, 2020

The Kino Border Initiative reported:

Earlier this week, a young couple with their baby who fled threats from organized crime in Honduras attempted to cross through the desert in Arizona to request asylum. They turned themselves in to Border Patrol near Tucson, and expressed their fear of returning to Honduras as well as the discrimination they have encountered in Mexico after being detained multiple times, denied health care amidst a serious illness in detention, and having wages stolen by an employer. The BP agents claimed they did not speak Spanish, and told them they could only request asylum at a port of entry with a CBP officer. When the family was returned to Mexico, they approached the downtown Nogales port of entry, only to be rejected. The CBP agent they spoke with refused to take any steps to assess their fear claims and turned them away.

— “October 1 Update from KBI” (Nogales: Kino Border Initiative, October 1, 2020).

Sector(s): Tucson, Tucson Field Office

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

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

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

Victim Classification: Family Unit, Honduras

Late September, 2020

The Kino Border Initiative reported:

Three unaccompanied minors were expelled to Nogales under Title 42 in late September. These children entered the United States in an attempt to seek asylum and reunite with their mother, after suffering abuse in the home of a family member in Mexico. In response, a Florence Project attorney accompanied the children to seek asylum at a Port of Entry in Nogales, advocating that the children receive a Credible Fear Interview. CBP turned the children away. Last week, the attorney tried again to accompany the children to the Port of Entry, this time to request humanitarian parole. Despite significant congressional advocacy and insistence by the attorney that the U.S. government uphold its obligation to these children under the Convention Against Torture, CBP informed the attorney that “no one without papers is allowed to enter at the southern border.”

— “October 15 Update From KBI” (Nogales: Kino Border Initiative, October 15, 2020).

Sector(s): Tucson Field Office

Agency(ies): Office of Field Operations

Event Type(s): Denial of Protection to Most Vulnerable, Expulsion of Unaccompanied Minor

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

Victim Classification: Domestic Violence Victim, Mexico, Unaccompanied Child

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: