8 Records of Alleged Abusive or Improper Conduct where the victim classification is “Kidnap Victim”

March and April, 2022

An April 2022 report from Human Rights First, the Haitian Bridge Alliance, and Al Otro Lado lists several examples of San Diego CBP port-of-entry officers’ refusals to grant humanitarian exceptions to Title 42 for especially vulnerable asylum seekers.

In April 2022, CBP denied humanitarian exemption requests for a Nigerian man with glaucoma and hand tremors who was beaten by police in Mexico; a gay Venezuelan man living with HIV who is partially deaf; a Mexican torture survivor with diabetes; a Haitian woman with a high-risk pregnancy who is experiencing food insecurity; and a disabled Honduran man whose injuries from a car accident have become infected and who needs specialized medical treatment. These requests had been submitted by Ginger Cline, an attorney with Al Otro Lado.

CBP officers at the San Ysidro port of entry have also recently denied humanitarian exemption requests for a Mexican woman fleeing threats by a cartel who murdered the woman’s husband and whose 12-year- old son has a pacemaker and urgently needs specialized medical treatment; a 14-year-old with a traumatic brain injury he incurred from falling from a two-story building to escape kidnappers; and a two- year-old Honduran asylum-seeking child with severe and worsening epilepsy who suffers from eight- minute-long seizures. Margaret Cargioli, an attorney with Immigrant Defenders Law Center in San Diego, had submitted these requests ultimately denied by CBP.

CBP at the San Ysidro port of entry has failed to respond to humanitarian exemption requests submitted months ago, including for a LGBTQ woman with maternal uterine fibroids who experiences constant bleeding after she was raped twice in Mexico in bias-motivated attacks based on her sexual orientation and for a Mexican domestic violence victim whose husband found her in Tijuana and kidnapped her daughter, according to Immigrant Defenders Law Center.

Extending Title 42 Would Escalate Dangers, Exacerbate Disorder, and Magnify Discrimination (New York: Human Rights First, Haitian Bridge Alliance, Al Otro Lado, April 27, 2022) https://www.humanrightsfirst.org/resource/extending-title-42-would-escalate-dangers-exacerbate-disorder-and-magnify-discrimination.

Sector(s): San Diego Field Office

Agency(ies): Office of Field Operations

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

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: Accompanied Child, Black, Disability, Domestic Violence Victim, Family Unit, Female, Haiti, Honduras, Kidnap Victim, LGBTQ, Medical Condition, Mexico, Nigeria, Pregnancy, Single Adult, Venezuela

January 13, 2022

A January 2022 Human Rights First report discussed CBP’s denial of humanitarian parole requests for highly vulnerable migrants at the San Ysidro Port of Entry between San Diego and Tijuana.

CBP has denied or ignored more than 100 of the 147 humanitarian parole requests Al Otro Lado submitted to the San Ysidro port of entry, according to attorney Ginger Cline. People denied parole by CBP at the San Ysidro port of entry since December 2021 include: a Salvadoran woman with epilepsy who was kidnapped, drugged, and beaten in Mexico; a Haitian man who experienced two racially motivated assaults in Tijuana; a Mexican woman fleeing cartel threats and severe domestic violence whose 9-year-old child was sexually abused; a Haitian man with painful growths on his chest who was sexually assaulted by his employer and who has been unable to access medical treatment in Tijuana; and a LGBTQ Haitian person who was assaulted in Mexico.

Yet, at other U.S. ports of entry, including Brownsville and Hidalgo, CBP officers have approved hundreds of humanitarian parole requests since late 2021, according to Charlene D’Cruz with Lawyers for Good Government.

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): San Diego Field Office

Agency(ies): CBP

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

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: Black, Disability, Domestic Violence Victim, El Salvador, Family Unit, Haiti, Kidnap Victim, LGBTQ, Mexico, Sexual Abuse Victim

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

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

April 3, 2021

A report from the Kino Border Initiative (KBI) and NETWORK described the apprehension and expulsion of a Guatemalan man who, after fleeing extortion and threats in his country, was kidnapped and tortured for two weeks during his journey through Mexico.

He managed to flee his kidnappers to continue to the U.S. In the U.S., he and two friends encountered one Border Patrol agent. The agent first handcuffed the other two to each other with chains. The agent then kicked the Guatemalan man who made this complaint in the left ankle, which caused him to collapse. The agent picked the man up by his shoulder and put him in the back of the truck. The agent expelled the man to Nogales, Sonora despite the injuries the agent had inflicted and the fact that he was kidnapped in Mexico. He was never given an opportunity to speak to anyone else about his fear of return.

KBI filed an April 13, 2021 complaint with the DHS Office on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL) and the CBP Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR). On April 30, 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

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

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

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

Victim Classification: Guatemala, Kidnap Victim, Single Adult

Early April, 2021

The Kino Border Initiative reported Border Patrol’s expulsion to Mexico of a Guatemalan asylum seeker despite his claims of fear of return, and his claims to have suffered abduction and assault while in Arizona:

A Guatemalan man who entered the US to seek asylum earlier this month got lost while walking in the desert. As he and the man he was traveling with tried to find their way in the desert in southern Arizona, a group of three armed men dressed in black began firing shots at them. The armed men threw the men to the ground, tied their hands, covered their eyes with blindfolds, and took them to a house where they beat him, took his clothes off, tied him up, and left him outside for an entire day and night. The following day, the kidnappers left him on the side of the road, where he sought help and eventually laid down to await Border Patrol agents. The man attempted to assert his fear of traffickers in Mexico with Border Patrol Agents at the field station and later at the processing center in Tucson, but all officials with whom he spoke ignored his fear-based claims. BP agents returned him to Nogales, Mexico, where he is at risk of further attack by his traffickers.

— “April 15 Update From KBI” (Nogales: Kino Border Initiative, April 15, 2021).

Sector(s): Tucson

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

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

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

Victim Classification: Guatemala, Kidnap Victim, Single Adult

January 31, 2021

A report from the Kino Border Initiative (KBI) and NETWORK described a Honduran woman’s inability, while in Border Patrol custody, to seek asylum and avoid Title 42 expulsion into Mexico.

A Honduran woman fled domestic abuse from a partner in Honduras who is connected to organized crime. She filed a police report in Honduras and he threatened her even more.

While traveling through Mexico, she feared being forced into prostitution to survive. She was able to avoid this. On the way to the United States, she was kidnapped by the cartel and ransomed for one thousand dollars. When a friend was able to pay the ransom, the cartel dropped her and 38 others off in the desert.

Once she entered the United States through the desert she was detained by Border Patrol. At that time, she told the Border Patrol agent she wanted a lawyer to claim asylum. The agent said she will be able to ask for one at the next facility. At the next facility she asked again and said she needed help to file for protection. The agent she spoke to at that facility knew Spanish. This agent said he couldn’t do anything about it and that she could tell someone in the next facility she will be transferred to. Then she was taken to the Tucson Border Patrol station where she told another agent she wanted a lawyer to file for asylum. The agent said he was not going to violate immigration law for her or anyone else. He said she did not have rights because she arrived illegally. She tried to tell her story of violence and persecution to several other agents, but the first one didn’t allow her to speak to anyone else and just shouted at her to get on the bus.

She was expelled to Nogales, Sonora. She fears that Mexico is also unsafe for her since it is where the cartel who kidnapped her operates. While in Mexico, she has been “approached by men in a dark vehicle” and she worries that she will be attacked.

KBI filed a February 5, 2021 complaint with the DHS Office on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL) and the CBP Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR). On February 25, CRCL emailed “that they received the complaint, recorded it intheir 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

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

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

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

Victim Classification: Domestic Violence Victim, Female, Honduras, Kidnap Victim

Mid-July, 2020

The Kino Border Initiative reported:

We filed a complaint on behalf of a Cuban couple, who was kidnapped for months in Mexico. A government official in southern Mexico put them in contact with the woman who ended up kidnapping them. After several months they managed to escape, but the woman has continued to send threatening messages and says that she knows they are in Nogales.

When they crossed into the US and were detained, they tried to express their fear of return to Border Patrol agents. However, the agent responsible for processing them only replied “you think I’m here to solve your problems? … All Cubans come here with the same story” and “you are going back no matter what and you will have to figure out what to do.”

Another agent told them there was nothing he could do besides give them a speedy court date. He scheduled them for a July hearing, which has since been rescheduled to October due to the court cancellations. Both were returned to Nogales, Sonora with no access to an interview with a USCIS officer to assess their fear of return.

— “July 23 Update From KBI” (Nogales: Kino Border Initiative, July 23, 2020).

Sector(s): Tucson

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

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

Last Known Accountability Status: Complaint Filed with CRCL, Shared with Congressional Oversight Committees

Victim Classification: Cuba, Family Unit, Kidnap Victim