Organizational Culture Events involving “ICE”

August 12, 2021

“A Cameroonian asylum-seeker is suing the US government for an alleged assault by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Ice) officers, who he said knelt on his neck and suffocated him to try to force him to accept his own deportation.

In a report filed on Thursday, Acheleke Fuanya said the alleged attack, at a Louisiana prison in January, has left him with persistent back and waist pain, and post-traumatic stress disorder. He also claims lingering Covid symptoms after the alleged incident in which he says the Ice officers were unmasked in violation of official regulations.

“The officers surrounded Mr Fuanya, tripped him to the ground, and kneeled on his neck, and pulled his head forward in order to suffocate him,” the complaint says. “Other officers yanked his arms and twisted his leg and ankle. Even after Mr Fuanya pleaded with the officers to get off of him because he could not breathe, they continued to choke him until they grabbed his fingers and forcibly fingerprinted him.”

The ICE officers were trying to make him sign a document and appeared to take his fingerprint by force as a substitute for a signature. The exact contents of the document are unknown but in other cases Ice officers have allegedly try to force asylum-seekers to sign waivers of their asylum rights or requests to their home governments for travel documents, which would put a veneer of legality on their deportations.”

Source: The Guardian, “Cameroonian asylum-seeker sues US for alleged assault by Ice officers”, August 2021. <https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/aug/12/cameroonian-asylum-seeker-sues-us-for-alleged-assault-by-ice-officers>

Sector(s): Border-Wide

Agency(ies): ICE

Event Type(s): Denial of Asylum, Inappropriate Deportation, Use of Force

Accountability Status: Lawsuit Filed

July 23, 2021

“ICE continues to fail to take necessary public health measures, including releasing qualified individuals, and
therefore Arizona immigration detention centers remain hotbeds for the COVID-19 pandemic.
Migrants continue to raise concerns about their inability to socially isolate, lack of access to PPE and
cleaning materials (including soap), and lack of access to nutritious meals. Those who are in medical
isolation complain they are only allowed out of their cell for 20 minutes a day and often are forced to choose
between showering and calling legal service providers.

Migrants’ access to mail and the library has impacted their ability to defend their own cases pro se, in
particular with looming, inflexible deadlines in front of the BIA. Hearings in immigration court remain
unpredictable and susceptible to last minute cancellation due to the pandemic. Defense attorneys are often
not notified until the last moment or during hearings that their clients will not be able to attend.

On April 20, 2020, a Federal District Court granted a nationwide injunction requiring ICE to make speedy
custody redeterminations for detained individuals whose specific medical conditions put them at higher risk
of suffering severe illness or death if they contract COVID-19. In Arizona detention centers, ICE has not only
failed to proactively release many of these individuals but has also failed to respond to humanitarian parole
requests submitted on their behalf. For example, numerous medically vulnerable Florence Project clients
have submitted humanitarian parole requests which, in some cases after months, still have not been
responded to. In the interim, some of these individuals have contracted COVID-19.”

Source: Kino Border Initiative, “July 23 Update From KBI”, July 2021.

Sector(s): Border-Wide

Agency(ies): ICE

Event Type(s): Conditions in Custody, Disregard to Public Health, Weak Oversight

Accountability Status: Complaint filed with CRCL

July 8, 2021

“ICE continues to transport migrants to Nogales, Sonora for removal from the U.S. at night. The practice
places migrants at an unnecessary increased risk of robbery, kidnapping, and other violent crimes, and
excludes them from coordination and reception services available for recently removed migrants. Because of
the well- known danger of said practice, Local Repatriation Agreements between U.S. and Mexican
authorities prohibited night deportations for years, but since spring of 2020 these removals have occured
very frequently. KBI staff and migrants have reported nighttime deportations on at least five nights in
the last two weeks. Because shelters are closed when migrants are deported or expelled at night, many individuals are forced to sleep outside of the port of entry on benches. One night last week migrants were expelled in the midst of a heavy rain that flooded the streets near the port of entry.”

Source: Kino Border Initiative, “July 8 Update From KBI”, July 2021.

Sector(s): Tucson

Agency(ies): ICE

Event Type(s): Dangerous Deportation

Accountability Status: Complaint filed with CRCL

June 18, 2021

“A Salvadoran woman traveling by herself to seek asylum in the US was detained by ICE when she was
processed through the Title 42 exemption process last week. Her sponsor was not notified that ICE had
detained her and called KBI worried because she had not made contact with them. A week later, she is still
detained, and the sponsor has not received any information about when she will be released.”

Source: Kino Border Initiative, “June 24 Update From KBI”, June 2021.

Sector(s): Tucson

Agency(ies): ICE

Event Type(s): Conditions in Custody

Accountability Status:

June 17, 2021

“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 interfaithSaveAsylum 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.”

Source: Kino Border Initiative, “June 24 Update From KBI”, June 2021.

Sector(s): Tucson

Agency(ies): CBP, ICE

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

Accountability Status: No steps taken

January 12, 2021

On January 12, 2021, Rafael Mercado Arechiga reported to the Freedom for Immigrants National Hotline that he was not receiving adequate mental health care or medication for pain. Mr. Mercado Arechiga reported that Officer Williams, a CCA officer, has been joining psychiatric appointments and recommending treatment and medication changes but admits that she is not a licensed psychiatrist or psychologist. Since Core Civic took over, Mr. Mercado Arechiga has only been given Tylenol instead of Gabapentin and has been switched to a few different PTSD medications that have not been working for him. Mr. Mercado Arechiga reported that his conditions have been getting worse since switching medications and that Tylenol is not enough for the amount of pain he feels. Mr. Mercado Arechiga also reported that he’s been in solitary for a year. He remains in a solitary cell for 22 hours a day and is not able to exercise or socialize. 

Source: Freedom for Immigrants, “CRCL Complaint Erik Mercado Arechiga” January 2021. <https://share.mayfirst.org/s/F2soW64cQDRr6fe?dir=undefined&path=%2F&openfile=8425396>

Sector(s): San Diego

Agency(ies): ICE

Event Type(s): Conditions in Custody, Denial of Medical Care

Accountability Status: No further action

January 11, 2021

On January 11, 2021, Erik Mercado Arechiga reported to the Freedom for Immigrants National Hotline that the detention facility is supposed to pay a detained worker to clean the showers in the unit but they are leaving that position unfilled. The showers are shared with individuals who have COVID-19 and those who do not. The showers are extremely filthy; people don’t even want to go in them to shower. Mr. Mercado Arechiga reported that he walked into the showers and couldn’t even stomach the filth, so he washed himself in a sink.

Source: Freedom for Immigrants, “CRCL Complaint Erik Mercado Arechiga”, January 2021. <https://share.mayfirst.org/s/F2soW64cQDRr6fe?dir=undefined&path=%2F&openfile=8425396>

Sector(s): San Diego

Agency(ies): ICE

Event Type(s): Conditions in Custody, Disregard to Public Health

Accountability Status: Complaint filed with CRCL, No further action

November 18, 2020

US government officials admitted in federal court Tuesday that they violated a judge’s order when 32 unaccompanied immigrant children were expelled back to Guatemala, adding that they will begin the process of getting the group back to apply for asylum.

The offer to return the group to the US is a dramatic turn in a monthslong saga over the Nov. 18 flight to Guatemala, which occurred shortly after US Judge Emmet Sullivan blocked the Trump administration from turning back unaccompanied children under the argument that it would protect against further spread of COVID-19. Roughly 10 minutes later, at 10:12 a.m. ET, ICE officials deported the children.

An ICE deportation official, Evan Katz, confirmed in the filing that the agency had sought Guatemalan approval to return most of the children to the US, many of whom reboarded the plane as part of the process. Katz told the court that an ICE assistant attaché in Guatemala received an email from an agency colleague that afternoon stating: “The single minors have disembarked however they want the kids to be returned to the US.”

Of the 32 children, 28 boarded the plane again at about 4:55 p.m. ET on Nov. 18 because the remaining four had tested positive for COVID-19 and were taken to be quarantined, one of the government filings states. But a few minutes later, the children were taken off the plane.

Source: Buzzfeed News, “US Officials Admitted They Violated A Court Order When They Expelled 32 Immigrant Children To Guatemala”, January 2021. <https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/hamedaleaziz/us-officials-violated-court-order-immigrant-children>

Sector(s): Border-Wide

Agency(ies): ICE

Event Type(s): Inappropriate Deportation

Accountability Status: Shared with DHS OIG

October 30, 2020

Over 200 children from countries like Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras have been forced into Mexico after trying to cross into the U.S. in the last eight months, according to the New York Times, where they were placed with welfare authorities and into shelters operated by religious groups and private organizations.

According to U.S. policy and an agreement with the Mexican government, only Mexican children and children with adult supervision can be pushed back into Mexico after trying to cross the border, the report saidothers are supposed to be flown back to their home countries by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The Trump administration in March began turning migrants and asylum seekers who crossed the U.S.-Mexico border illegally instead of moving them into detention centers, a policy the administration had sought in the past that was blocked by federal courts, saying the policy change was necessary to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.  

An email from U.S. Border Patrol’s assistant chief, Eduardo Sanchez, obtained by the Times, confirmed that unaccompanied children had been sent back into Mexico instead of being flown to their home countries, and acting commissioner of the Customs and Border Protection agency Mark Morgan acknowledged that expelling unaccompanied non-Mexican children to Mexico was against U.S. policy.

Source: Forbes, “Migrant Children Sent To Mexico Alone, Against U.S. Policy”, October 2020. <https://www.forbes.com/sites/danielcassady/2020/10/30/migrant-children-sent-to-mexico-alone-against-us-policy/?sh=f863eb43b645>

Sector(s): Border-Wide

Agency(ies): ICE

Event Type(s): Inappropriate Deportation

Accountability Status: Shared with DHS OIG

August 20, 2020

A Mexican father of four U.S. residents was detained by ICE after being stopped for speeding in Arizona.
ICE agents placed the father and other people in detention in isolation cells traditionally used for punishment,
and only allowed them to leave these cells once every three days to bathe and make a phone call. ICE uses
such harsh practices because it has failed to contain COVID 19 outbreaks in detention through common
sense measures such as releasing more individuals and implementing public health protections. ICE then
deported the man to Nogales, Mexico last week without returning the $200 he had in his commissary
account, which left him with no resources for travel, food or housing.

Source: Kino Border Initiative, “August 20 Update From KBI”, August 2020. <https://drive.google.com/file/d/1lw3sTn0rVUN0YEpJquEhaJKRdplKFeV3/view?usp=sharing>

Sector(s): Tucson

Agency(ies): ICE

Event Type(s): Conditions in Custody, Disregard to Public Health, Inappropriate Deportation, Non-Return of Belongings

Accountability Status:

August 19, 2020


“A Mexican father of 3 US citizen children decided to leave detention through voluntary departure after over
20 years in the US because an ICE agent told him he would have to wait 10 to 12 months in detention to
fight his case to stay. In other words, he would have to endure almost a year of poor conditions in the midst
of a pandemic for a chance to stay with his children. Although he had lived in the US since the age of 8,
when the local police stopped him for a traffic infraction and discovered that he did not have a license, ICE
quickly requested his transfer into custody. He asked repeatedly to call his family, and ICE agents told him to
wait. His release report inaccurately states that he refused his one phone call. Because all his family is in the
US, he is considering paying a smuggler to attempt to cross through the desert since he sees no other
pathway with the border being closed and no cases being processed. He hoped that through voluntary
departure, he would be able to petition to come back to the US from Mexico since he has children who are
citizens. With all offices closed, he doesn’t know where to turn.”

Source: Kino Border Initiative, “August 20 Update From KBI”, August 2020. <https://drive.google.com/file/d/1lw3sTn0rVUN0YEpJquEhaJKRdplKFeV3/view?usp=sharing>

Sector(s): Border-Wide

Agency(ies): ICE

Event Type(s): Conditions in Custody, Lying or Deliberate Misleading

Accountability Status: Unknown

August 19, 2020

A Central American man was extrajudicially deported by ICE before having his scheduled day in immigration court. His illegal expulsion happened during an action that sent scores of detainees from Louisiana to Guatemala on an airplane, after they had tested positive for the coronavirus while in ICE detention, but later were deemed virus-free. The Intercept confirmed that one person was illegally deported in this manner, but there may have been more victims.

On August 19, Cesar Marroquín was put on a packed flight to Guatemala after spending five months in detention, waiting to pursue a claim for asylum and for protection against torture in his home country. By law, ICE cannot deport someone unless an immigration judge first orders their removal; ICE merely carries out the judges’ decisions. But before a judge could rule on whether or not Marroquín should be deported, ICE contravened the court’s authority and expelled him.

ICE has admitted to The Intercept that the expulsion was improper. In an emailed statement, agency spokesperson Bryan Cox said that Marroquín’s deportation resulted from an “administrative error” that is “exceedingly rare.” Cox did not respond when asked if other immigrants on the plane in addition to Marroquín were illegally deported.

Source: The Intercept, “ICE Admits Wrongful Deportation of Guatemalan Man”, October 2020. <https://theintercept.com/2020/10/07/ice-wrongful-deportation-guatemala/>

Sector(s): Border-Wide

Agency(ies): ICE

Event Type(s): Denial of Asylum, Inappropriate Deportation

Accountability Status: Shared with DHS OIG