Organizational Culture Events

Examples of abuses or other behaviors indicating need for reform at U.S. border and migration institutions

July 31, 2020

 On July 31, when the peak temperature of the day was about 110 degrees in the remote area of the camp, the Border Patrol and CBP’s paramilitary arm, the Border Patrol Tactical Unit (BORTAC), invaded a No More Deaths humanitarian aid area accompanied by an armored vehicle, three ATVS, two helicopters, and over 20 marked and unmarked vehicles. The agents, refusing to show a warrant and remaining unmasked, detained over 30 people seeking aid. The day before the raid, the Border Patrol had placed the camp under lockdown with 24-hour surveillance, turning away anyone else seeking to enter the camp for aid.

Source: The Nation, “The Border Patrol Is Cracking Down on Humanitarian Aid”, July 2020 <https://www.thenation.com/article/society/no-more-deaths-arizona/>

Sector(s): Tucson

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Use of Force

Accountability Status: No steps taken

July 26, 2020

“Border Patrol agents attempted to initiate a vehicle stop and the driver then attempted to elude agents by fleeing at a high rate of speed. Agents ultimately lost sight of the vehicle and it was located a short time later where it had rolled over. Agents arrived on scene and discovered several injured persons. Two people who are believed to be undocumented immigrants were killed in the crash.”

Unknown
Age: Unknown
Nationality: Unknown
Cause of Death: Car crash (Vehicle collision)
Incident Date: July 26, 2020
Incident Location: Del Rio, TX

Source: Southern Border Communities Coalition (SBCC), “Fatal Encounters with CBP Since 2010,” <https://www.southernborder.org/deaths_by_border_patrol>

Sector(s): Del Rio

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Fatal Encounter, Vehicle Pursuit

Accountability Status:

July 9, 2020

“A man was shot and killed by CBP officers after approaching an officer and a security guard with a knife.”

U.S. border agent, security guard shot man at Calexico border crossing

Name Withheld 
Age: Unknown
Nationality: Unknown
Cause of Death: Fatal shooting (Use of force)
Incident Date: July 9, 2020
Incident Location: Calexico, CA

Source: Southern Border Communities Coalition (SBCC), “Fatal Encounters with CBP Since 2010,” <https://www.southernborder.org/deaths_by_border_patrol>

Sector(s): El Centro

Agency(ies): CBP

Event Type(s): Fatal Encounter

Accountability Status:

July 9, 2020

“Officers observed a man walking toward the gate, carrying a bag over his shoulder. The man was “supposedly” carrying narcotics, the statement said. It said he fled toward the U.S. side of the gate when he saw Mexican police officers.

The man dropped the bag before crossing the international line and, according to the statement, U.S. customs agents shot him after he crossed into the U.S.”

Source: Desert Sun, “US Border Agent, Security Guard shot man at Calexico Border Crossing”, July 2020. <https://www.desertsun.com/story/news/crime_courts/2020/07/09/gunfire-reported-near-calexico-united-states-mexico-border/5407043002/>

Sector(s): San Diego

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Use of Force

Accountability Status: No steps taken

July 7, 2020

An investigation by the ACLU Foundation of San Diego and Imperial Counties and ACLU Border Rights Center “identified many instances in which Border Patrol agents verbally abused individuals, including children, in their custody. This abuse may involve bullying, harassment, threats of violence or other harm, denigration, ridicule, racism, and misstatements about U.S. immigration law, including an individual’s right to seek asylum. Recently detained individuals related the following statements to our investigator: [28]”

  • “Olvídate del asilo, a la mejor te quitamos a tu hija.”

“Forget about asylum, we might just take away your daughter.”

—Border Patrol agent to woman while interrogating her about why she came to the United States.

  • “No mantenemos hijos de nadie.”

“We don’t take care of anyone’s children.”

—Border Patrol agent to a mother when she asked for food for her 1-year old child who had not had any food to eat for an entire day.

  • “Pendejadas las tuyas, esa mentira ya me la creo yo.”

“Your words are bullshit, I stopped believing that lie.”

—Border Patrol agent to woman trying to explain she had fled her country of origin to escape from her abusive partner.

  • “Cabrona, échate para atrás.”

“You bastard, get back over there.”

—Border Patrol agent to woman as she was entering the country and injured from crossing the border wall.

  • “¿Desgraciada, ¿porque tienes tantos niños si no los puedes cuidar? Puta, prostituta.” “Disgraced woman, why do you have so many kids if you can’t take care of them? Slut, prostitute.”

—Border Patrol agent to a detained mother.

  • “¿Trajiste a tu hija a los EEUU para prostituirla?”

“Did you bring your daughter to the U.S. to prostitute her?”

—Border Patrol agent to a mother with a 15-year-old daughter.

  • “¿Cuáles de ustedes maricas sufren de asma?”

“Which of you faggots suffer from asthma?”

—Border Patrol agent to a holding cell of young boys aged 13 to 17.

  • “If you keep complaining I will put you with the dogs.”

—Border Patrol agent to woman when she refused to undress for a search during apprehension.

  • “Yo mismo te voy a deportar, te voy a echar a México y vas a correr.”

“I am going to deport you myself, I will send you back to Mexico and you’ll have to run.”

—Border Patrol agent to man upon apprehension in the United States.

  • “Ya saben a que vienen, ¿porque te quejas? ¿Qué, quieren una coca fría? ¡Aquí no es un hotel!”

“You know where you were coming, why are you complaining? What, did you want a cold soda? This is not a hotel!”

—Border Patrol agent to a cell of detained mothers as their children were crying and pleading for food.

  • “Son indios de pata rajada, solo usan sus hijos para entrar.”

“You are all [derogatory expression referring to indigenous peoples], you only use your children to enter [the United States].”

—Border Patrol agent to detained father.

  • “¡Aquí no se hace lo que voz dice, se hace lo que yo digo!”

“Here we don’t do what you say, you do what I say!

—Border Patrol agent to pregnant woman asking for water.

  • “Are you fucking retarded? Stop playing with that shit.”

—Border Patrol agent to children playing in holding cell.

  • “Váyanse de aquí, ¿qué hacen aquí sí ni hablan inglés?, no valen nada.”

“Get out of here, what are you doing here if you don’t even speak English, you are worthless.”

—Border Patrol agent to woman and her family upon apprehension.

  • “He’s not even your son, you’re too old, he’s your grandson.”

—Border Patrol agent to an older woman and her child upon apprehension.

  • “No estás en tu casa, ¿tienes mierda en la cabeza?”

“You’re not at home, do you have shit for brains?”

—Border Patrol agent to woman who asked for a plastic cup to drink water.

  • “Joder con ustedes, por eso no mejoran en su país.”

“I’ve fucking had it with you, this is why you guys don’t advance in your country.”

—Border Patrol agent to detained woman who did not understand his Spanish.

  • “Usan sus hijos como si fueran pasaporte.”

“You all use your kids as if they were a passport.”

—Border Patrol agent to detained woman.

  • “If you can eat and pee you’re okay.”

—Border Patrol agent to detained man with severe flu symptoms.

  • “If you would have never left your country you would not have to go through this.”

—Border Patrol agent to detained woman as she begged to not be returned to Tijuana under the so-called Migrant Protection Protocols (“MPP”) (also known as the “Remain in Mexico” policy).

  • “What is going on in your guys’ country that you think the government here will take care of you?”

—Border Patrol agent to 8-months-pregnant woman during processing.

  • “No me interesa porque te haz venido, por las buenas o las malas te regresas.”

“I don’t care why you’ve come here, for better or worse you’re going back.”

—Border Patrol agent to detained father before putting his family into MPP.

  • “I know guys like you, always on the streets.”

—Border Patrol agent to a 16-year-old boy during interrogation without his mom present while she was in separate holding cell.

  • “I don’t care, it’s not my life, not my problem.”

—Border Patrol agent to detained woman as she tried to explain why she had left her country of origin.

  • “I don’t have to tell you, you broke the law, you have no rights.”

—Border Patrol agent to woman when she asked what was on the form she was being instructed to sign.

  • “¡Levántense, puercas!”

“Get up, pigs!”

—Border Patrol agent to a cell of detained women.

  • “This is jail, not a hotel.”

—Border Patrol agent to woman who asked for an instant soup instead of a cold burrito.

  • “Why do they only send us their trash? You are all trash!”

—Border Patrol agent to cell full of detained women and children.

  • “You are acting like a dumbass! I am tired of you!”

—Border Patrol agent to teenage girl after she declined agent’s request to remove her sweatshirt because of freezing temperatures in holding cell.

  • “I am treating you the way illegals should be treated!”

—Border Patrol agent to mother of teenage girl who stood up for her daughter after agent ridiculed her and told agent to “stop yelling at us.”

  • “You are an idiot but you sure are good at popping out kids.”

—Border Patrol agent to detained mother.

“[28]: Most of ACLU’s interviews were conducted in Spanish, with contemporaneous notes taken in Spanish by our investigator. Where our notes contain the original Spanish quotes, we have provided that original (as relayed by the interviewee to our investigator) as well as our English translation. At times, our investigator memorialized a statement in English only during her interview (via simultaneous translation). In such cases, we have reproduced her English translation here.

“Many of these quotes use degrading and offensive language that we hesitated to reprint. In the end, we decided to reproduce the language reported to remain as faithful as possible to the accounts of those we interviewed.”

Source: ACLU Foundation San Diego and Imperial Counties, ACLU Border Rights Center, “Re: U.S. Border Patrol’s Verbal Abuse of Detained Individuals” (San Diego and El Paso, July 7, 2020) <https://cbpabusestest2.files.wordpress.com/2020/10/2020-07-07-dhs-oig-cmplt-4-final.pdf>.

Sector(s): San Diego

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Abusive Language, Conditions in Custody, Denial of Asylum, Denial of Food or Water, Denial of Medical Care, Lying or Deliberate Misleading, Racial Discrimination or Profiling

Accountability Status: Shared with DHS OIG

July 6, 2020

“Border Patrol agents responded to a call of a man in distress on a remote ranch. The man was taken to a hospital, where he passed away.”

Name Withheld 
Age: 28
Nationality: Unknown
Cause of Death: Unknown (Medical)
Incident Date: July 6, 2020

Incident Location: Laredo, Texas

Source: Southern Border Communities Coalition (SBCC), “Fatal Encounters with CBP Since 2010,” <https://www.southernborder.org/deaths_by_border_patrol>

Sector(s): Laredo

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Fatal Encounter

Accountability Status:

July 1, 2020

Two eyewitness accounts of the deadly car crash in Downtown El Paso conflict with what law enforcement officials have said about the events prior to the accident that killed seven and left three with serious injuries.

Border Patrol officials had said agents initially pursued a vehicle believed to be transporting undocumented immigrants, but broke off the chase after it reached dangerously high speeds heading into Downtown El Paso. They said the driver who evaded agents bears sole responsibility for the deaths.

Wilmer Gomez Gomez of Guatemala was one of 10 people in the vehicle that violently struck a trailer on Paisano Avenue at about 2:15 a.m. on June 25. Twenty-five-year-old Gomez, who survived the crash, said he remembers being pursued by approximately seven Border Patrol vehicles. “They were chasing us, they never stopped chasing us,” Gomez said.

In an interview with El Paso Matters, Gomez recounted that when he got into the car, a Border Patrol vehicle was nearby, blocking the gray Chevrolet Cruze. Gomez said that the Border Patrol vehicle moved out of the way, letting the Cruze pass, before it and other Border Patrol vehicles began chasing them. Gomez said he and a group of five others were picked up by the car; Border Patrol officials said three undocumented immigrants were in the vehicle, but police on Wednesday said five of the people in the vehicle were Guatemalans.

Source: El Paso Matters, “Witnesses say Border Patrol chased car moments before it crashed, killing 7”, July 2020. <https://elpasomatters.org/2020/07/01/witnesses-say-border-patrol-chased-car-moments-before-it-crashed-killing-7/>

Sector(s): El Paso

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Fatal Encounter

Accountability Status: No steps taken