Organizational Culture Events

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

June 30, 2021

“On June 30, 2021, a Border Patrol Agent (BPA) encountered a male citizen of Mexico in medical distress, after being flagged down by an individual on Indian Service Route 2 (ISR2) near Vamori, AZ. The BPA requested a Border Patrol Emergency Medical Technician (EMT), however, the man’s condition worsened. Due to weather concerns, an air ambulance was unable to respond to the location. BPAs from the Border Patrol Search Trauma and Rescue Team (BORSTAR) arrived and transported the man to an adequate helicopter landing zone in Vamori, AZ. From there, the man was transported via CBP helicopter to a hospital in Sells, AZ. The man was subsequently transported via ambulance and admitted into a hospital in Tucson, AZ.”

Unknown
Age: Unknown
Nationality: Mexican
Cause of Death: Medical
Incident Date: June 30, 2021
Incident Location: Vamori, AZ

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

Sector(s): Tucson

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Fatal Encounter

Accountability Status:

June 30, 2021

“A Mexican man, his wife, and two children presented themselves at the Mariposa port of entry twice to seek asylum in the US. The agents on duty first told them they needed to go to the Mexican immigration office at the Mexican port of entry at the other side of the road. When the Mexican authorities said they can’t do anything, the family returned to the US port of entry. The same agents said the only thing they could do was deport them to Mexico. The family had pleaded with the agents, saying they were afraid to go back as they had received death threats from the police in their village who were involved in organized crime. The CBP agents said they could not help them, and they needed to go to Kino Border Initiative to get legal help. They called a Mexican government agent to pick the family up and take them to Kino.”

Source: Kino Border Initiative (KBI) and NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice, Due Process Denied, 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 Asylum

Accountability Status: Complaint filed with CRCL, Complaint filed with OPR

June 30, 2021

“A Guatemalan man, his wife, and son entered the United States with the intention to seek asylum. They crossed and encountered Border Patrol. The Border Patrol asked if their objective was to seek asylum, and the father said yes. The family was then transported to an outpost and processed. A CBP officer asked where they were from but did not ask any other questions. They were transported to a facility in Tucson, where the man was separated from his wife and son. They were all moved between several different detention centers, and the only time the man was able to see his wife and son was during transport. In one of the facilities, he told an agent he feared returning to Guatemala. The agent laughed in his face and said something to the other agents, who all laughed. He felt so humiliated and discouraged to ask for asylum again. He was moved four times to different border facilities. Finally, he and his family were expelled in the very early morning hours without ever being given a fear assessment or referred to the USCIS.”

Source: Kino Border Initiative (KBI) and NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice, Due Process Denied, 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): Abusive Language, Denial of Asylum, Family Separation

Accountability Status: Complaint filed with CRCL, Shared with DHS OIG

June 26, 2021

“On June 26, 2021, a Border Patrol Agent (BPA) was observing traffic on a rural road near Boulevard, CA, when he noticed a red Honda travel southbound and then return northbound a few minutes later with additional occupants. The BPA conducted a vehicle stop and found four undocumented migrants inside the vehicle, including one in the trunk. As the occupants got out of the vehicle, the BPA noticed that one of the migrants in the back seat, a female later determined to be a Mexican citizen, was unresponsive. The BPA immediately requested medical assistance. Approximately 7 minutes later, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL-Fire) Emergency Medical Services arrived on scene. The woman was then transported to a local area hospital via helicopter, where she was later pronounced deceased.”

Unknown
Age: Unknown
Nationality: Mexican
Cause of Death: Medical
Incident Date: June 26, 2021
Incident Location: Boulevard, CA

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

Sector(s): San Diego

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Fatal Encounter

Accountability Status:

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

June 23, 2021

“On June 23, a Border Patrol Agent driving a marked Border Patrol vehicle spotted people jumping into the bed of a white pickup truck, approximately 300 yards from the Rio Grande in Laredo, TX.  The pickup immediately left the area at a high rate of speed, causing several people to fall from the vehicle. The BPA radioed to additional BPAs in the area as he attempted to catch up with the white pickup truck.  The BPA lost sight of the vehicle and radioed to other agents notifying them that he could not locate the vehicle.

The pickup collided into a SUV at the intersection of Main Avenue and Jefferson Street, approximately 16 blocks northwest of the BPA’s location.  Border Patrol EMTs, Laredo Fire Department Emergency Medical Services (EMS), and Laredo Police Department (LPD) responded to the scene of the collision. No Border Patrol units were pursuing the white pickup truck at the time of the crash.  The first Border Patrol unit arrived on the scene within a minute and came from the opposite direction without its lights and sirens activated.

Two unidentified occupants of the pickup truck were declared deceased on scene and eight occupants of the pickup were severely injured.  On June 25, 2021, a third unidentified occupant of the pickup passed away at the University Hospital in San Antonio, TX.

This incident is being reviewed by the Webb County Medical Examiner’s Office and CBP’s Office of Professional Responsibility and is being investigated by the Laredo Police Department.”

Unknown
Age: Unknown
Nationality: Unknown
Cause of Death: Car chase (Vehicle collision) 
Incident Date: June 23, 2021
Incident Location: Laredo, TX

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, Vehicle Pursuit

Accountability Status: Complaint filed with OPR

June 23, 2021

“According to Border Patrol officials, agents tracked and found a group of undocumented migrants about 20 miles northeast of Eagle Pass in the early morning hours of June 23, and approached them as they rested. Members of the group fled and agents pursued them until they heard screams from a man-made lake nearby. Officials said that agents worked in the dark and pulled several people out of the lake safely, but two men identified as Guatemalan citizens drowned. One was given CPR by Border Patrol agents for over 30 minutes before being declared dead, while the other was found deceased in the lake later on.”

Unknown
Age: Unknown
Nationality: Guatemala
Cause of Death: Drowning
Incident Date: June 23, 2021
Incident Location: Eagle Pass, 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

Accountability Status:

June 20, 2021

“A family who attempted crossing in two different Border Patrol sectors reported insultingly dismissive treatment in every interaction they had with Border Patrol agents. Border Patrol agents repeatedly told them, “I don’t care about your problems,” laughed at them and ridiculed them. In one interaction, the agent reportedly said, “What a coincidence. All of you seem to be coming because someone wants to kill you. That’s not my problem.”

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

Sector(s): Tucson

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Abusive Language, Denial of Asylum

Accountability Status: No steps taken

June 19, 2021

“A woman fleeing with her children from domestic violence reported that Border Patrol agents laughed at one
of her daughters when she told them she was crying because of the abuse she’d suffered. Once the family
was taken to a Border Patrol station, another agent reportedly yelled at the mother after she had expressed
that she could not return to her country for fear of further violence, saying “look, you’re here as a migrant.
You didn’t have a reason for crossing into this country. You’re going back to your country as you arrived, or
worse.”

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

Sector(s): Tucson

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Abuse of minor, Abusive Language, Denial of Asylum

Accountability Status: No steps taken

June 17, 2021

“On June 17, 2021, a Border Patrol Agent (BPA) observed two suspected undocumented migrants getting into a vehicle along Arizona State Route 85 (SR 85), approximately one and a half miles north of the Lukeville, AZ Port of Entry.  Approximately 20 miles north of where the suspected undocumented migrants entered the vehicle, another BPA waiting on SR 85, activated his emergency lights and sirens and attempted to stop the vehicle.  The vehicle did not stop and continued for approximately one mile, where another BPA deployed a vehicle immobilization device (VID) across the roadway.  The driver of the suspected smuggling vehicle attempted to avoid running over the VID and subsequently lost control and crashed.

One of the two undocumented migrants in the vehicle, a male citizen of Mexico, was in critical condition and was transported to the Abrazo West Medical Center in Goodyear, AZ where he ultimately succumbed to his injuries on June 19, 2021.

This incident is being investigated by Homeland Security Investigations, the Arizona Department of Public Safety and reviewed by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Office of Professional Responsibility.  The Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General was also notified of the incident.”

Unknown
Age: Unknown
Nationality: Mexico
Cause of Death: Car chase (Vehicle collision) 
Incident Date: June 19, 2021
Incident Location: ≈

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

Sector(s): Tucson

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Fatal Encounter, Vehicle Pursuit

Accountability Status: Complaint filed with OPR, Shared with DHS OIG

June 17, 2021

“Former LAPD officer and U.S. veteran, Janine Bouey, filed a complaint against the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) for her inhumane treatment at the border. This is the first step in a lawsuit against DHS. Janine, who is a Black woman, was sexually assaulted by agents at the Otay Mesa Port of Entry. In this lawsuit, she calls for DHS and CBP to take responsibility for their actions and end the practice of assault on women, including Black women. One year ago today, Janine was returning from her dentist and crossed the U.S. border at the Otay Mesa Port of Entry. She was singled out by a CBP officer while waiting in line. She was the only Black woman to be pulled from the line for questioning. The officer asked for Janine’s home address even though he was in possession of her license. The officer suggested that Janine might want his home address. The officer proceeded to escort her to a nearby building where she was eventually assaulted. Janine’s experience and training as a law enforcement officer informed her understanding that the actions taken by the CBP officers were well out of bounds of normal protocol. Janine filed a complaint with DHS about the officer’s actions shortly after the incident. To her knowledge, no disciplinary action was taken and the officers involved in the incident remain at work.”

Source: “Abuse, Assault and Impunity at Dhs Must Stop: Former Lapd Officer Subjected to Sexual Assault by Dhs Sues the Agency” (Alliance San Diego, June 17, 2021 <https://www.alliancesd.org/abuse_assault_and_impunity_at_dhs_must_stop_former_lapd_officer_subjected_to_sexual_assault_by_dhs_sues_the_agency?fbclid=IwAR1RvOCy1klavU7_CDsDXw3z-XHLfks8b0o5gtJTXlDNSHXkdlHNowyZCzQ>.

Sector(s): San Diego

Agency(ies): CBP

Event Type(s): Use of Force

Accountability Status: No further action, Shared with DHS OIG

June 16, 2021

“A Jamaican man entered the United States at a port of entry to ask for  asylum and was immediately confronted by two Border Patrol agents who  physically attacked him. They knocked him to the ground with a plastic barrier and  began beating and punching him. One agent put his foot on his neck as he lay on the  ground. The agents dragged him across concrete into an office at the port of entry. A  third agent told the two that what they were doing was wrong. The other agents  dismissed her objection. The Jamaican man was then handcuffed to a bench. Later, he was taken to another room where he was photographed and fingerprinted. When the agents asked why he was there, the Jamaican man said he was seeking asylum.  The agents asked where he was from and when he said Jamaica. The agents said, “this is what a bunch of you have been doing (running into the port of entry), you  are getting out of here.” They took him to the Mexican immigration office. His  friends were in Mexico waiting to see if he got across successfully. The Mexican  immigration officers took photos of all their passports and asked them to go to Kino  Border Initiative.”

Source: Kino Border Initiative (KBI) and NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice, Due Process Denied, June 2021.

Sector(s): Tucson

Agency(ies): CBP

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

Accountability Status: Complaint filed with CRCL, Shared with DHS OIG

June 15, 2021

“In late June 2021, ACLU representatives joined a brief official tour of the Anzalduas TOPS, during
which Border Patrol representatives described the site as being used exclusively to
hold families with children under 7 years old.

The temperature was in the 90s. For the dozens of children and adults detained
outdoors in the heat, only a fan and a set of overhead sprinklers provided plainly
inadequate cooling. At a meeting in May, a Border Patrol representative justified
holding families in the South Texas summer heat by egregiously claiming that the
conditions are preferable to many migrants, who Border Patrol described as “not
used to air conditioning.”

In addition to having no basic temperature controls, the TOPS has a bare-bones
structure that lacks other minimal protections. Families are funneled through a
series of outdoor areas surrounded by plastic fencing. We observed them being held
in an area with hard benches and gravel as the only places to rest or sleep.

Border Patrol told us there is no medical staff on site beyond emergency medical
personnel, and the nearest paved road to get to medical aid is a five to 10 minute
drive away. Border Patrol has even given us conflicting answers about what, if any,
detention standards apply to the site. This is particularly troubling since detention
standards mandate a “reasonable and comfortable” temperature for those detained
— contrary to the very design of the TOPS.

Just last week in the Rio Grande Valley, we interviewed recently released families
with small children who reported that thousands of people were being held at the

site. Every family reported spending two or three days under the bridge. Mothers
shared that Border Patrol denied their pleas for medical care for sick children and
that they experienced miserable conditions in high temperatures.

The TOPS has also been shrouded in secrecy. There are no telephones for migrants,
and, like all Border Patrol facilities, no in-person visits are allowed. As pictures of a
make-shift outdoor site began to surface earlier this year showing families with
small children sleeping on the ground in corral-like holding areas, we filed a
Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request seeking details. We wanted to know
how long people were being held outdoors and how Border Patrol was ensuring the
safety of those in custody. Over four months later, the agency still hasn’t responded
to our FOIA request.

Subsequent reporting and our own interviews confirmed that families were being
held outdoors under the bridge for multiple days, without adequate access to
medical care, subjected to verbal abuse by Border Patrol agents, and suffering from
first cold springtime and then hot summer temperatures.”

Source: ACLU, “Border Patrol Must Stop Holding People in an Inhumane Outside Pen Under a Highway in South Texas”, August 2021. <https://www.aclu.org/news/civil-liberties/border-patrol-must-stop-holding-people-in-an-inhumane-outside-pen-under-a-highway-in-south-texas/>

Sector(s): Rio Grande Valley

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Abusive Language, Conditions in Custody, Denial of Medical Care, Disregard of Public Health

Accountability Status: No steps taken

June 12, 2021

“A Guatemalan man entered the United States through the desert with a  group of several others. He encountered Border Patrol agents who tripped him, causing him to fall and injure his knee. His face was injured with thorns. He was in a  lot of pain, and he asked for medical attention. The agents said they could not help  him. They then forced him to walk for an hour in handcuffs. Then the agents drove  him to the border station. He didn’t receive medical attention at the station. He was  expelled from that station to Nogales, Sonora. Only after he arrived in Mexico did  Kino facilitate medical attention.”

Source: Kino Border Initiative (KBI) and NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice, Due Process Denied, August 2021.

Sector(s): Tucson

Agency(ies): CBP

Event Type(s): Denial of Medical Care, Use of Force

Accountability Status: Complaint filed with CRCL, Shared with DHS OIG

June 10, 2021

“A woman from Mexico and her four children, one of whom is a U.S. citizen, presented themselves at the port
of entry and asked for asylum. The officers present informed them that they had to come to KBI to be
granted asylum, when an NGO clearly has no such authority. Unbelievably, this is only one of multiple
instances in which US authorities have told asylum seekers to come to KBI for asylum.”

Source: Kino Border Initiative, “June 10 Update From KBI”, June 2021.

Sector(s): Border-Wide

Agency(ies): CBP

Event Type(s): Lying or Deliberate Misleading

Accountability Status: No steps taken

June 10, 2021

“One woman fleeing with her seven-year-old daughter from violence in Honduras attempted to cross into the
U.S. and ask for asylum several times. The first few times, she was hastily returned to Nogales, Sonora. On
her final attempt, she and her daughter were kidnapped by their smuggler and held and tortured for over two
weeks until her family could pay their ransom.”

Source: Kino Border Initiative, “June 10 Update From KBI”, June 2021. <https://drive.google.com/file/d/1oSZtJx1CNSXShFCySEkR5b7ruSn4LbuT/view?usp=sharing>

Sector(s): Tucson

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

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

Accountability Status: No steps taken

June 9, 2021

“Over a dozen migrants who have arrived at KBI in the past two weeks have reported being deported
at night, between 10PM and 5AM. A Mexican man who could not sustain himself economically decided to try to cross into the United States for work. After spending several days in the desert and running out of water, he was apprehended by Border Patrol and returned to Nogales, Sonora at 11PM. He arrived at our center the following morning dehydrated. Despite the difficulty, he wished to attempt another crossing the following day, seeing no other option for livelihood.”

Source: Kino Border Initiative, “June 10 Update From KBI”, June 2021.

Sector(s): Tucson

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Dangerous Deportation

Accountability Status: No steps taken

June 7, 2021

“A man arriving at our center reported watching from a distance as Border Patrol agents emptied the water
bottles belonging to the apprehended members of his group. Dehydrated, he continued walking in the desert
alone until he encountered another group of Border Patrol agents who physically assaulted him and mocked
his dehydrated state, refusing to give him water until they arrived at a Border Patrol station.”

Source: Kino Border Initiative, “June 10 Update From KBI”, June 2021.

Sector(s): Tucson

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Conditions in Custody, Denial of Food or Water, Use of Force

Accountability Status: No steps taken

June 6, 2021

“While some migrants apprehended at night have reported being detained overnight and deported the
following morning, one woman who arrived at our center reported that after turning herself in to Border Patrol
in the desert, she was detained overnight then still released into Sonora the following night. By holding
the woman overnight in a congregate setting and then expelling her over 24 hours later, Border Patrol makes
it clear that nighttime expulsions are not, as they have claimed, for the purpose of avoiding the spread of
COVID through prolonged detention in CBP custody.”

Source: Kino Border Initiative, “June 10 Update From KBI”, June 2021.

Sector(s): Tucson

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Dangerous Deportation

Accountability Status: No steps taken