Organizational Culture Events

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

July 30, 2021

“A Honduran woman who has been in the United States since 2018 was  visiting a friend when they noticed a CBP checkpoint on the way. Fearing what may  come, she got out of the car on the roadside to avoid the checkpoint because of her  immigration status. She called her husband to pick her up, but he refused to come at  first, fearing that he would be mistaken for a smuggler. Eventually, he came to get  her, but they got lost in the desert and in the early hours of the morning called 911  to rescue them. The Pima County Sheriff’s officer then detained her. CBP arrived at  the scene, and she was handed over to them. She was not crossing the border. The  CBP officers then forced her to sign a document and put her in a vehicle, telling her  she was going to expelled under Title 42. She was expelled in Nogales.”

Source:

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

Sector(s): Tucson

Agency(ies): CBP

Event Type(s): Inappropriate Deportation

Accountability Status: No further action

July 30, 2021

“A Guatemalan man who has been in the United States since 2005 was detained in the desert while trying to pick up his wife. He went to pick her up, but  they got lost in the desert. Eventually they called 911 for help. The Pima County  Sheriff’s officer then detained them. Border Patrol arrived at the scene, and they  were then handed over to them. Despite having a work permit, which he tried to  present to agents, he was not allowed to leave the checkpoint. He was not crossing  the border. CBP officers then forced him to sign a document and put him in a vehicle  and they told him he was going to be expelled under Title 42. He was expelled in Nogales.”

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): Inappropriate Deportation

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

July 30, 2021

“A Honduran man, wife and daughter entered the United States and were detained in [across from] Reynosa. They told the agents who detained them that they wanted to seek asylum. The agents said “no,” that there was nothing the agents could do for them; however, the agents asked the family to write down their names. The family was taken under a bridge, where they were told to sleep outdoors, on the concrete. They were not given food or water for 10 hours. There were several hundred other migrants under the bridge with no access to running water. All the migrants were confined in a small space where they could touch each other. There were three toilets (port-o-potties) for several hundred migrants. There were no facilities for them to bathe under the bridge. On the fourth day, the family was flown to Tucson where they were finally able to wash themselves, though they were detained there for four days and only allowed to wash that one time. In Tucson, they asked again to be considered for asylum but were again told no. The agents also shouted at the immigrants asking them to shut their kids up. The agents told the family that since they came to the US illegally, they had no right to asylum, and that they should attempt to seek asylum at the nearby port of entry. From there, they were expelled to Nogales, Sonora.”

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): Rio Grande Valley, Tucson

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

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

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

July 24, 2021

“On July 24, 2021, Border Patrol Agents (BPAs) assigned to the Harlingen, Texas, Border Patrol station apprehended two undocumented migrants near Highway 77. One of the migrants, a citizen of Honduras, told the BPAs he was not feeling well and displayed flu-like symptoms. The man was evaluated by a Border Patrol Emergency Medical Technician and was admitted to a hospital in Kingsville, TX, that day. On July 31, 2021, the man was pronounced deceased by hospital personnel.”

Unknown
Age: Unknown
Nationality: Honduran 
Cause of Death: Medical
Incident Date: July 24, 2021
Incident Location: Harlingen, TX

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

Sector(s): Rio Grande Valley

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Fatal Encounter

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

July 23, 2021

“A Honduran man, his wife, and daughter entered the United States near McAllen, Texas where they were detained. They were kept under an overpass with hundreds of other migrants. The agents took their temperatures and biometric data. There was a medical tent, but the family could not get medical attention. Their infant daughter became sick while they were there. Although they asked for medical attention for their baby, the agents refused to provide any. They were held there for three days. This family was exposed to the elements and went without basic necessities like running water, beds to sleep in, etc. They were only fed twice a day. Border Patrol would periodically call names to board buses; if you missed your name, you had to wait until next time they came to call your name. Because of this, people chose to remain awake rather than risk missing their chance to leave. The father recalls the brutal sleep deprivation this caused. After three days the Border Patrol transferred them to a facility. At the facility the agents confiscated all their belongings (clothes, medicine, diapers, phone chargers, etc.). They were not given anything to eat at the facility for the whole day. The father was temporarily separated from his wife and daughter and placed in a separate holding facility with about fifty others, who had been at the facility for some time. Eventually, the agents took down details of the family members they had in the US and told them they could leave once their family members had paid for their travel. This was a lie. The family was instead taken to the airport and flown to Tucson, AZ and then expelled to Nogales, Sonora.”

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): Rio Grande Valley, Tucson

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Conditions in Custody, Denial of Asylum, Denial of Food or Water, Denial of Medical Care, Family Separation, Lying or Deliberate Misleading, Non-Return of Belongings

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

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 22, 2021

“At least five different migrants arriving at our Migrant Aid Center in the last two weeks shared that BP agents have
adopted a manipulative strategy to avoid providing medical attention to migrants in their custody. Officers tell
migrants at one processing center that they will receive medical attention at the next processing center. When
migrants arrive at the next center, agents there tell them the same thing, and the migrants are instead expelled to
Mexico without ever having received medical attention.”

Source: Kino Border Initiative, “July 22 Update From KBI”, July 2021.

Sector(s): Border-Wide

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Denial of Asylum, Denial of Medical Care, Lying or Deliberate Misleading

Accountability Status: No steps taken

July 16, 2021

“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.”

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

Sector(s): Tucson

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

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

Accountability Status: Complaint filed with CRCL

July 8, 2021

“One teenager arrived with her sister after Border Patrol denied them a credible fear screening. She
explained to border officials that she was fleeing the man who raped her, beat her sister, and was pursuing
her as she left. On one occasion, a US official reached into her blouse and bra, despite her protests, to take
documents relating to her sexual abuse and laughed at her while reading her papers.”

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

Sector(s): Tucson

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Denial of Asylum, Gender-based Violence, Sexual Assault

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

July 8, 2021

“Having heard that asylum was being denied to anyone except single women traveling with children, a woman
from Guatemala decided to cross the desert with her one-year-old baby in hopes that Border Patrol would
listen to her asylum claim. When she was apprehended by Border Patrol, they refused to give her access to a credible fear hearing and instead removed her and her child to Nogales, Sonora, where she met up with
her husband. The family is fleeing death threats in Guatemala because they can no longer pay extortion fees
given the expenses required to support their baby. Once reunited in Nogales, they attempted crossing twice
more through the desert with their baby, only to be returned both times without being screened for credible
fear.”

Source: Kino Border Initiative, “July 8 Update From KBI”, July 2021. <https://drive.google.com/file/d/1WO0_klu2ADpdA0-upu6ZmjPHVJCTwWAt/view>

Sector(s): Tucson

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

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

Accountability Status: Complaint filed with CRCL

July 8, 2021

“Recently, one of our legal service partners spoke with Maily Martinez, who attempted to cross the border with her
husband and son near the Yuma port of entry in early July. Maily was eight months pregnant with twins at the time.
When BP agents encountered the family, the woman expressed that she urgently needed medical attention, but the
agents ignored her and expelled her back to Mexico. She realized shortly after that the twins had died, likely rightaround the time that Border Patrol denied her medical aid.”

Source: Kino Border Initiative, “July 22 Update From KBI”, July 2021.

Sector(s): Tucson

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Denial of Asylum, Denial of Medical Care, Fatal Encounter, Gender-based Violence

Accountability Status: Lawsuit Filed

July 5, 2021

“A Guatemalan woman, her sister (19), brother, and son entered the United States and were all detained by border patrol. At that time the agent was very nice to them and gave them water and took them to a Border Patrol station. They were subsequently moved to Tucson. There, CBP processed the sister first, and a female CBP agent reached into her sister’s shirt and grabbed sister’s documents from her bra. Her brother was separated from them, and she did not have any information about his whereabouts as of July 10. She was never told why they separated her brother from her. She was also then separated from her sister, who CBP says tried to escape them while they were walking in the desert. The woman told agents several times that her sister had not tried to escape apprehension and that they had been together the whole time. The officers told her “You are not in your country. We are in charge here.” In the facility, the staff at the station refused to give them blankets. In the early morning, she was reunited with her sister on a bus. She tried several times to tell them she was seeking asylum, but no one listened. CBP kept telling them that this was their country, and they were in charge. The woman, her sister, and son were expelled to Nogales, Sonora in the early morning.”

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): Conditions in Custody, Denial of Asylum, Family Separation, Lying or Deliberate Misleading

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

July 5, 2021

“A Guatemalan woman with her four children crossed into the United  States with a big group and encountered a Border Patrol agent in a vehicle. That  agent was very nice to them, gave them water and said they could have whatever  they needed. He called for more vehicles to carry them all, and they were  transferred to a Border Patrol facility that was very cold. Then they were put on  busses to Tucson. At the Tucson border facility, the woman approached an agent  asking how they should apply for asylum and informing him that her son has a  medical condition and needs medical care. She showed him the documents (a  diagnosis, x-rays, etc.) to prove that her son was in need and that he needed surgery  within the next two months. The agent took the documents and threw them in the  thrash. When she went to retrieve them from the trash, he took them again and told  her “they belong in the trash.” When she protested, he became angry and told her to  go away and gave her a sleeping mat. The mat was soaking wet so that she could not  use it. She never got her documents back. Hours later, she and the children were expelled to Nogales, Sonora.”

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

Sector(s):

Agency(ies): CBP

Event Type(s): Lying or Deliberate Misleading, Non-Return of Belongings

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

July 5, 2021

“A Guatemalan woman and her two young daughters entered the United  States through the desert and encountered a Border Patrol agent. They were  detained and moved to a facility with cold rooms. Then they were transferred to  Tucson. There, she told an agent that she had injured her foot while walking in the  desert and needed medical attention. The agent agreed, but then she walked away  and never came back. She was never given any medical attention. They were made  to sit in the chairs at the Tucson facility; the children could not sleep. At the facility, they were forced to take off any extra clothing and allowed to wear only a t-shirt  and pants. Her daughter was shivering. They asked for blankets but were given only  one small one many hours later. She tried to tell agents she wanted to seek asylum, but no one listened to her. The next morning the family was expelled to Nogales,  Sonora.”

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

Sector(s): Tucson

Agency(ies): CBP

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

Accountability Status: Complaint filed with CRCL

July 4, 2021

“A Guatemalan mother and her four children who had fled persecution in their home country entered the US
on July 4th with a packet of evidence related to their asylum case, including police reports that document
their attempts to seek protection. When apprehended by Border Patrol, she tried to show agents that
evidence. Instead, two ASID (Alien Smuggler Identification and Deterrence) agents interrogated her for
around half an hour about who she had paid and how she had crossed. They refused to listen to her or
look at any documents related to her asylum claim and threatened that if she didn’t give them the
information they wanted on the smuggler she would face serious consequences. They asked her for her
husband’s number. Since he is in the US and is in the asylum process, she thought that they would call
him as part of processing her for asylum. Instead, they only called her husband to ask whether he paid the
cartel and, if so, how much money. Before expelling the mother and her four children, a Border Patrol
agent said to her that she should pass on the message of: “Don’t come here. You aren’t going to get
anything. If you bring kids, you won’t accomplish anything.”

Source: Kino Border Initiative, “July 9 Update From KBI”, July 2021.

Sector(s): Tucson

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Denial of Asylum, Family Separation

Accountability Status: Complaint filed with CRCL

July 4, 2021

“A Salvadoran mother who was detained and expelled on July 4th with her 14-year-old daughter, who is
asthmatic, reported that in the few hours in custody Border Patrol agents at the Nogales Station yelled at
them repeatedly. One agent gathered the group and told everyone “send the message back to everyone
that even if you have asylum cases and even if you have kids there would be no options in the US for you.”
He told them “tell others that you would never triumph in the US.” She and her daughter were quickly
returned to Mexico despite their fear of return and were never given a chance to share additional
information on the persecution that they had fled in El Salvador.”

Source: Kino Border Initiative, “July 9 Update From KBI”, July 2021.

Sector(s): Tucson

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

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

Accountability Status: No steps taken

July 1, 2021

“Several people who arrived at our Migrant Aid Center in Nogales reported brutal treatment by Border Patrol
agents encountered in the desert. Two different people reported that agents slammed them to the ground
after lifting them by the neck, one person was dragged through thorns, and one was handcuffed, tied to a
horse, and forced to walk behind the horse for two hours.”

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

Sector(s): Tucson

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Use of Force

Accountability Status: Complaint filed with CRCL