3 Records of Alleged Abusive or Improper Conduct where the victim classification is “Teen”

July 12, 2023

In a Human Rights First report published on July 12, 2023, they described a case of  Mexican immigration officers blocking a Haitian minor who was pregnant from seeking asylum at the Matamoros port of entry. Humanitarian workers escorted the girl to the port of entry. Border Patrol officers told the humanitarian workers, “Sweetheart, we’re not going to take her.” The humanitarian workers responded by contacting U.S. officials by phone and were able to advocate for the migrant’s processing.

Asencio, Christina, Eleanor Acer, and Rebecca Gendelman. “Refugee Protection Travesty.” New York: Human Rights First, July 12, 2023. https://humanrightsfirst.org/library/refugee-protection-travesty/.

Sector(s): Border Patrol, Outside the United States

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Denial of Access to Asylum, Expulsion of Unaccompanied Minor

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: Female, Haiti, Teen, Unaccompanied Child

June 20, 2023

As the National Immigrant Justice Center and the New York Times reported, asylum seekers placed in “expedited removal” are forced to defend their claims while in CBP’s jail-like holding facilities within days of apprehension, resulting in elevated rates of failing the “credible fear” screening interview that determines asylum eligibility (70 percent failure in June 2023, compared to 26 percent in June 2019). A denial can result in immediate deportation.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) promised that people in CBP custody would have access to counsel for the interview, though this rarely happens, and that people would not be held for longer than 72 hours, yet numerous reports indicate people being held for 10 days and some for up to 30 days. Various groups have voiced concerns about the expedited removal process and the severe obstructions to access to counsel for people attempting to seek asylum including limiting access to phones for legal consultations, failing to notify attorneys of their clients’ scheduled screenings and immigration court reviews, denying asylum seekers in CBP custody access to pen and paper, and requiring that people physically sign a notice of entry of appearance to secure the attorney/client relationship, while often failing to facilitate the required signature. The Times observed:

Lawyers cannot meet with clients who are in the custody of Border Patrol. Or call them. Or leave messages for them. There is no system to find out where a client is being held. And the government sets the schedules for key meetings when a lawyer should be present and changes dates and times often without notification.

The failure to notify counsel of credible fear interviews has occurred within the context of persistent communication from attorneys requesting notification. Among cases cited:

An NIJC (National Immigrant Justice Center) attorney seeking to represent two asylum seekers in CBP custody emailed her notices of appearance and requested to attend her clients’ CFIs on three separate occasions over the span of five days. She received no acknowledgement or response. Only upon notifying officials at Department of Homeland Security (DHS) headquarters of these cases was she informed that both of her clients had already been interviewed without counsel present.

The NIJC described the re-traumatizing and destabilizing nature of a truncated screening process, notably for individuals with specific vulnerabilities. Their clients have included youth, LGBTQIA+ individuals, and survivors of sexual violence—each forced to recount their past trauma to an asylum officer within 24 hours of arriving in the United States, all while sitting alone in a phone booth in a carceral setting. Lee VanderLinden, NIJC supervising attorney described the process for one of their clients:

One person I represented had been held in CBP custody for two weeks before she spoke with an asylum officer. During that time, she was denied medical attention despite asking for treatment for her anxiety. She has since been deported, but the government has not told me or her mother to where she was deported.

— National Immigrant Justice Center. “Obstructed Legal Access: June 2023 Update,” June 20, 2023. https://immigrantjustice.org/staff/blog/obstructed-legal-access-june-2023-update.
—Sullivan, Eileen. “Lawyers Say Helping Asylum Seekers in Border Custody Is Nearly Impossible.” The New York Times, July 22, 2023, sec. U.S. https://www.nytimes.com/2023/07/22/us/politics/biden-asylum-policies-border.html.

Sector(s): Border-Wide

Agency(ies): CBP, DHS

Event Type(s): Denial of Access to Asylum, Denial of Access to Counsel, Denial of Protection to Most Vulnerable

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: LGBTQ, Sexual Abuse Victim, Single Adult, Teen

September 28, 2022

According to a January 10, 2023 CBP release, an unmarked Border Patrol vehicle and state and local police gave chase, with emergency lights on, to a pickup truck that evaded a Border Patrol checkpoint and proceeded at high speed in the vicinity of Uvalde, Texas. (Original link)

“Approximately one minute” after agents reported having “lost sight of the suspect pickup truck,” the truck was involved in a three-vehicle collision near the center of Uvalde.

The truck’s driver, Anahi Ramos, a 17-year-old female Austin resident and citizen of Mexico, and a passenger, a male citizen of Mexico, were killed. Eight other people aboard were taken to hospitals. Drivers of the other involved vehicles were taken to hospitals and “released with non-critical injuries.”

“The prevalence of police chases in the vicinity was a well-known problem in town, according to Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin,” the Washington Examiner reported at the time. “The town averaged two to three chases per day earlier this year, he told the National Review in March.”

The release concluded, “This incident is being investigated by the Texas Department of Public Safety and Homeland Security Investigations and is under review by the Customs and Border Protection’s Office of Professional Responsibility. Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General was also notified.”

— U.S. Customs and Border Protection. “Two Dead, Multiple Injured in Three-Vehicle Collision Following Failure to Yield Incident in Uvalde, Texas,” January 10, 2023. <https://www.cbp.gov/newsroom/speeches-and-statements/two-dead-multiple-injured-three-vehicle-collision-following>.

— Giaritelli, Anna. “Uvalde Rocked by Horrific Fatal Crash Involving Immigrant Smuggler.” Washington Examiner, September 29, 2022. <https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/news/uvalde-fatal-crash-migrant-smuggler>.

— Lynch, David. “Two Dead and 10 Hospitalized after Major Uvalde Wreck, Police Say.” kens5.com, September 8, 2022. <https://www.kens5.com/article/news/local/public-safety/uvalde-police-crash-texas/273-116f152e-b2aa-4874-a6ad-ce0e742764e7>.

Sector(s): Del Rio

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Vehicle Pursuit

Last Known Accountability Status: Shared with DHS OIG, Under ICE-HSI Investigation, Under Local Police investigation, Under OPR Investigation

Victim Classification: Female, Mexico, Teen