15 Records of Alleged Abusive or Improper Conduct in “Border-Wide” where the victim classification is “Family Unit”

August 16, 2022

“Family members are still being separated under some circumstances” at the border during the Biden administration, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported, “including if a parent has a criminal history, has health issues, or is being criminally prosecuted.” A DHS report to Congress counted 227 family separations in 2021 (original link).

— Kate Morrissey, Family Separations at the Border Continue Under Biden (San Diego: The San Diego Union-Tribune, August 16, 2022) https://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/immigration/story/2022-08-16/family-separations-at-the-border-continue-under-biden.

Family Unit Actions Report October 1, 2020-September 30, 2021 (Washington: Department of Homeland Security Office of Strategy, Policy, and Plans, March 23, 2022) https://www.dhs.gov/sites/default/files/2022-03/22_0323_plcy_family_unit_actions_report_fy21_September_0.pdf.

Sector(s): Border-Wide

Agency(ies): CBP

Event Type(s): Family Separation

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: Family Unit

August 1, 2022

Data obtained by the Cato Institute show that, since the COVID-19 pandemic began, CBP personnel have used the Title 42 health provision to expel thousands of families with toddlers and babies into Mexico in the post-midnight hours, despite safety risks. The statistics “show that as of May 31, CBP had used its Title 42 ‘health’ authority to expel 30,806 children ages 3 and under—with about 41 percent of these expulsions occurring at midnight or later,” noted a blog post from Cato’s associate director of immigration studies, David Bier.

Under normal circumstances, CBP’s repatriation agreements with Mexico prohibit removals to Mexican border towns between 10:00 PM and 5:00 AM, except under emergency circumstances. Title 42 expulsions have occurred without regard to these repatriation restrictions. “The Biden Administration is actually expelling more children at night than even the Trump Administration did,” Cato noted.

— David J. Bier, “CBP Is Expelling Thousands of Infants and Toddlers to Mexico After Midnight” (Washington: Cato at Liberty, August 1, 2022) https://www.cato.org/blog/cbp-expelling-thousands-infants-toddlers-mexico-after-midnight.

Sector(s): Border-Wide

Agency(ies): CBP

Event Type(s): Dangerous Deportation, Denial of Protection to Most Vulnerable, Endangerment

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: Accompanied Child, Family Unit

Late February, 2022

A report from Human Rights First discussed the separation of an 18-year-old Colombian from the rest of her family at the border.

In late February 2022, DHS separated an 18-year-old Colombian child from her parents and younger sibling when they sought protection together at the border and detained her in the Berks County Residential Center. After nearly a month in detention, an immigration judge set a $4,500 bond for her release, according to her attorney at Aldea PJC.

“I’m a Prisoner Here”: Biden Administration Policies Lock Up Asylum Seekers (New York: Human Rights First, April 21, 2022) https://www.humanrightsfirst.org/resource/i-m-prisoner-here-biden-administration-policies-lock-asylum-seekers.

Sector(s): Border-Wide

Agency(ies): CBP, ICE

Event Type(s): Family Separation

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: Colombia, Family Unit

November, 2021

A report from Human Rights First discussed the separation of an 18-year-old Cuban from the rest of his family at the border.

In November 2021, DHS separated an 18-year-old Cuban teenager from his parents and younger sister when they sought protection together at the border. While the rest of his family was paroled, DHS transferred the child to the Moshannon Valley Processing Center—a new immigration detention center opened by the Biden administration in Pennsylvania—placed him in removal proceedings and jailed him for over two months. ICE only released him in February 2022 after his attorney at Aldea PJC submitted a parole request.

“I’m a Prisoner Here”: Biden Administration Policies Lock Up Asylum Seekers (New York: Human Rights First, April 21, 2022) https://www.humanrightsfirst.org/resource/i-m-prisoner-here-biden-administration-policies-lock-asylum-seekers.

Sector(s): Border-Wide

Agency(ies): CBP, ICE

Event Type(s): Family Separation

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: Cuba, Family Unit

October 21, 2021

“In the past two months alone,” Human Rights First reported,

DHS has denied parole requests for many vulnerable asylum seekers, including a Honduran lesbian couple who were raped by Mexican police, a Honduran family with a seven-year-old daughter with cerebral palsy, a homeless Haitian asylum seeker living with HIV, and Mexican LGBTQ+ asylum seekers who were sexually assaulted and beaten in Mexico. Even when CBP officers at ports of entry have granted urgent requests for humanitarian parole, this has often come only after complaints to DHS headquarters – and officers have still refused to parole accompanying family members, leading to family separations.

— Julia Neusner, Kennji Kizuka, “Illegal and Inhumane”: Biden Administration Continues Embrace of Trump Title 42 Policy as Attacks on People Seeking Refuge Mount (New York: Human Rights First, October 21, 2021) https://www.humanrightsfirst.org/resource/illegal-and-inhumane-biden-administration-continues-embrace-trump-title-42-policy-attacks.

Sector(s): Border-Wide

Agency(ies): DHS

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

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: Black, Family Unit, Haiti, Honduras, LGBTQ, Medical Condition, Mexico, Sexual Abuse Victim, Single Adult

Late September 2021

“A Haitian mother expelled in late September 2021 begged U.S. officers to remove her handcuffs to enable her to comfort her crying young daughter on the plane ride,” read a Human Rights First report, citing Blaine Bookey from the U.C. Hastings Center for Gender and Refugee Studies.

— Julia Neusner, Kennji Kizuka, “Illegal and Inhumane”: Biden Administration Continues Embrace of Trump Title 42 Policy as Attacks on People Seeking Refuge Mount (New York: Human Rights First, October 21, 2021) https://www.humanrightsfirst.org/resource/illegal-and-inhumane-biden-administration-continues-embrace-trump-title-42-policy-attacks.

Sector(s): Border-Wide

Agency(ies): DHS

Event Type(s): Conditions in Custody

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: Black, Family Unit, Haiti

September, 2021

A report from Human Rights First discussed the separation of a man and his teenage brother from the Ivory Coast.

A 20-year-old asylum seeker from the Ivory Coast was separated by DHS from his 16-year-old brother when they sought protection together at the southern border and subsequently deported in September 2021. The 20-year-old brother received a negative credible fear determination after unfairly being forced to undergo a CFI in French, which was not his best or native language. The 16-year-old brother, who has no other family in the United States, was held in ORR custody while his older brother and only caretaker was detained in Mississippi and Louisiana until his deportation, according to a detention visitation program advocate who spoke with both brothers.

“I’m a Prisoner Here”: Biden Administration Policies Lock Up Asylum Seekers (New York: Human Rights First, April 21, 2022) https://www.humanrightsfirst.org/resource/i-m-prisoner-here-biden-administration-policies-lock-asylum-seekers.

Sector(s): Border-Wide

Agency(ies): CBP, ICE

Event Type(s): Family Separation

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: Accompanied Child, Black, Family Unit, Ivory Coast

Early August, 2021

A report from Human Rights First discussed a Honduran asylum-seeking father’s prolonged separation from his family.

In early August 2021, DHS separated a 21-year-old Honduran asylum seeker from his wife and sick baby, who suffers from hydrocephalus and seizures, and detained the man at the Northwest ICE Processing Center in Washington. CBP released the wife and child, who relocated to Virginia to continue their asylum case. The man remained detained one-and-a-half months later, according to the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project.

“I’m a Prisoner Here”: Biden Administration Policies Lock Up Asylum Seekers (New York: Human Rights First, April 21, 2022) https://www.humanrightsfirst.org/resource/i-m-prisoner-here-biden-administration-policies-lock-asylum-seekers.

Sector(s): Border-Wide

Agency(ies): CBP, ICE

Event Type(s): Family Separation

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: Family Unit, Honduras, Medical Condition

July, 2021

A report from Human Rights First discussed a Guatemalan asylum-seeking father’s prolonged separation from his family.

In July 2021, DHS separated a Guatemalan asylum seeker from his wife and two young daughters when they tried to request protection together at the U.S. border. The family fled Guatemala after receiving death threats in retaliation for working with the police to enable the arrest of a high-level leader of a powerful gang. According to RAICES, ICE detained the man, who suffers from diabetes, in a Texas detention center, where he nearly fainted because he was not provided with an appropriate diet to meet his medical needs. ICE continued to refuse to release him for months after an immigration judge determined that he has a reasonable fear of persecution.

“I’m a Prisoner Here”: Biden Administration Policies Lock Up Asylum Seekers (New York: Human Rights First, April 21, 2022) https://www.humanrightsfirst.org/resource/i-m-prisoner-here-biden-administration-policies-lock-asylum-seekers.

Sector(s): Border-Wide

Agency(ies): CBP, ICE

Event Type(s): Family Separation

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: Family Unit, Guatemala

June, 2021

A report from Human Rights First discussed a Brazilian asylum-seeking father’s prolonged separation from his family.

DHS separated a Brazilian asylum seeker from his wife and infant daughter when they sought refuge at the U.S.-Mexico border in June 2021. Even though they had arrived together, ICE sent the man to the Kandiyohi County Jail in Minnesota, where he was detained until September 2021, according to The Advocates for Human Rights. His wife and baby received parole and were allowed to continue to pursue their asylum case in the community.

“I’m a Prisoner Here”: Biden Administration Policies Lock Up Asylum Seekers (New York: Human Rights First, April 21, 2022) https://www.humanrightsfirst.org/resource/i-m-prisoner-here-biden-administration-policies-lock-asylum-seekers.

Sector(s): Border-Wide

Agency(ies): CBP, ICE

Event Type(s): Family Separation

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: Brazil, Family Unit

Summer, 2021

A report from Human Rights First discussed the separation of a Cameroonian asylum-seeking man and pregnant wife.

Around summer 2021, DHS separated a Cameroonian man from his pregnant wife when they sought protection at the border. ICE detained the husband at the Aurora Detention Facility in Colorado while detaining the pregnant woman in multiple ICE facilities in Louisiana and Georgia. He was released in July after he established a credible fear of persecution, according to a legal services organization.

“I’m a Prisoner Here”: Biden Administration Policies Lock Up Asylum Seekers (New York: Human Rights First, April 21, 2022) https://www.humanrightsfirst.org/resource/i-m-prisoner-here-biden-administration-policies-lock-asylum-seekers.

Sector(s): Border-Wide

Agency(ies): CBP, ICE

Event Type(s): Family Separation

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: Black, Cameroon, Family Unit, Pregnancy

June, 2021

A report from Human Rights First discussed the separation of a Salvadoran man from the rest of his family at the border.

In June 2021, ICE detained a Salvadoran asylum seeker for two months waiting for a fear screening, which he passed. The man had been separated by DHS from his wife, two children, and mother when the family sought protection together at the southern border, according to an attorney who spoke with him.

“I’m a Prisoner Here”: Biden Administration Policies Lock Up Asylum Seekers (New York: Human Rights First, April 21, 2022) https://www.humanrightsfirst.org/resource/i-m-prisoner-here-biden-administration-policies-lock-asylum-seekers.

Sector(s): Border-Wide

Agency(ies): CBP, ICE

Event Type(s): Family Separation

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: El Salvador, Family Unit

May, 2021

A report from Human Rights First discussed the separation of an 19-year-old Venezuelan from the rest of her family at the border.

DHS separated a 19-year-old Venezuelan asylum seeker from her parents and younger brother in May 2021, who were paroled into the United States to apply for asylum. ICE then detained her for nearly two months at the Imperial Regional Detention Facility. The family fled Venezuela after the young woman was kidnapped and beaten by Venezuelan government agents and her brother murdered because of the family’s political opposition work. DHS denied a request for parole filed by her attorney in June 2021, according to Adam Howard, who assisted in representing her.

“I’m a Prisoner Here”: Biden Administration Policies Lock Up Asylum Seekers (New York: Human Rights First, April 21, 2022) https://www.humanrightsfirst.org/resource/i-m-prisoner-here-biden-administration-policies-lock-asylum-seekers.

Sector(s): Border-Wide

Agency(ies): CBP, ICE

Event Type(s): Family Separation

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: Family Unit, Venezuela

Late February, 2021

A report from Human Rights First discussed the separation of an adult Cuban asylum seeker from his mother in California.

DHS separated a 22-year-old Cuban asylum seeker from his mother in late February 2021 when they entered the United States in California to request protection, detaining him for over three months. Even after he established a credible fear of persecution in late March 2021, ICE continued to detain the young man in the Otay Mesa Detention Center until June 2021. He was released weeks after his attorney at Human Rights First filed a parole request.

“I’m a Prisoner Here”: Biden Administration Policies Lock Up Asylum Seekers (New York: Human Rights First, April 21, 2022) https://www.humanrightsfirst.org/resource/i-m-prisoner-here-biden-administration-policies-lock-asylum-seekers.

Sector(s): Border-Wide

Agency(ies): CBP, ICE

Event Type(s): Family Separation

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: Cuba, Family Unit

April 15, 2020

A complaint from the ACLU Foundation of San Diego and Imperial Counties and ACLU Border Rights Center reported on CBP’s failure to implement a detainee locator system, which complicates efforts to reunify separated families:

A detainee locator system allows family members, lawyers, and other advocates to pinpoint exactly where a particular person is being held.[31] Typically, the use of such a system requires knowledge of the detainee’s country of origin and “alien number” (“A number”), or their exact full name, country of origin and date of birth. Unlike ICE, CBP has never implemented a detainee locator system, nor does it facilitate visitation or communications with family or lawyers. CBP’s refusal to do these things aggravates the harms that stem from the agency’s practice of separating family members through processing and detention. Although ICE’s system is far from perfect, advocates and families rely on it to locate their clients and loved ones.

— “Separation of Families via CBP Detention and Processing, and the Agency’s Refusal to Implement a Detainee Locator System” (San Diego and El Paso, ACLU Foundation San Diego and Imperial Counties, ACLU Border Rights Center, April 15, 2020) https://cbpabusestest2.files.wordpress.com/2020/10/2020-04-15-dhs-oig-cmplt-3-final.pdf.

Footnote from above:

[31]: As CBP has recognized, “[t]he intent of creating a [detainee locator system] is to provide the general public with an accessible system that would allow the public to conduct online Internet-based queries to locate persons detained by CBP for administrative and/or criminal violations.” U.S. CUSTOMS AND BORDER PROTECTION, ONLINE DETAINEE LOCATOR SYSTEM (FY2017 Report to Congress), ii (Dec. 4, 2017) [hereinafter “CBP Detainee Locator Report”], https://www.dhs.gov/sites/default/files/publications/CBP%20- %20Online%20Detainee%20Locator%20System_0.pdf.

Sector(s): Border-Wide

Agency(ies): CBP

Event Type(s): Conditions in Custody, Family Separation

Last Known Accountability Status: Shared with DHS OIG

Victim Classification: Family Unit