11 Records of Alleged Abusive or Improper Conduct in “Tucson Field Office” where the accountability status is “Unknown”

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

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

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

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

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 or Gender-Based Violence Victim, Mexico, Unaccompanied Child