Organizational Culture Events

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

August 2021

In August 2021, DHS expelled Cynthia, a 21-year-old pregnant Honduran woman to Mexico, without providing her water or medical attention after she had begged for something to drink and to see a doctor for stomach pain.

Source: Julia Neusner, Kennji Kizuka, “Illegal and Inhumane”: Biden Administration Continues Embrace of Trump Title 42 Policy as Attacks on People Seeking Refuge Mount (New York: Human Rights First, October 21, 2021) <https://www.humanrightsfirst.org/resource/illegal-and-inhumane-biden-administration-continues-embrace-trump-title-42-policy-attacks>.

Sector(s): Border-Wide

Agency(ies): DHS

Event Type(s): Denial of Asylum, Denial of Food or Water, Denial of Medical Care

Accountability Status: Unknown

Late August 2021

“DHS continues to carry out some Title 42 expulsions to dangerous Mexican border cities in the middle of the night, when businesses are closed and humanitarian services are unavailable, increasing the risk that expelled individuals will be attacked. For example, Border Patrol agents expelled more than 20 people through the DeConcini port of entry to Nogales, Mexico around 2:00 a.m. in late August 2021, leaving them stranded. Several of those expelled told Kino Border Initiative that when they eventually managed to reach a migrant shelter, they were denied entry because they did not have proof of a negative COVID-19 test, which was impossible to obtain in the middle of the night. With no other options, they were forced to spend the night sleeping on the street.”

Source: Julia Neusner, Kennji Kizuka, “Illegal and Inhumane”: Biden Administration Continues Embrace of Trump Title 42 Policy as Attacks on People Seeking Refuge Mount (New York: Human Rights First, October 21, 2021) <https://www.humanrightsfirst.org/resource/illegal-and-inhumane-biden-administration-continues-embrace-trump-title-42-policy-attacks>.

Sector(s): Tucson

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Dangerous Deportation

Accountability Status: Unknown

August 2021

“In August 2021, DHS subjected three Nicaraguan political dissidents to a lateral expulsion flight after they sought protection near McAllen, Texas. DHS officers verbally abused them, threatening to release dogs to attack them. The officers woke the men at 1:00 am, handcuffed them, and forced them to stand for more than two hours before the expulsion flight. The officers lied to the men telling them that they would be sent to California and permitted to pursue their asylum cases, but instead expelled them to Tijuana. From there, Mexican immigration officials transported them to Mexico’s southern border and attempted to deport them to Guatemala, but Guatemalan immigration authorities refused to accept them, leaving them stranded in southern Mexico, according to Anaís Catalina, an advocate assisting them.”

Source: Julia Neusner, Kennji Kizuka, “Illegal and Inhumane”: Biden Administration Continues Embrace of Trump Title 42 Policy as Attacks on People Seeking Refuge Mount (New York: Human Rights First, October 21, 2021) <https://www.humanrightsfirst.org/resource/illegal-and-inhumane-biden-administration-continues-embrace-trump-title-42-policy-attacks>.

Sector(s): Rio Grande Valley, San Diego

Agency(ies): DHS

Event Type(s): Abusive Language, Denial of Asylum, Lying or Deliberate Misleading, Threat of Violence

Accountability Status: Unknown

April 25, 2021

“A young Mexican man expelled under Title 42 this week reported to KBI that Border Patrol agents left them in downtown Nogales, Sonora around 2:30AM. The group was afraid to walk through town at night, so they waited outside by the port of entry without any protection from organized crime groups, which are known to patrol this area, for 4 hours until the sun came up.”

Source: Kino Border Initiative, “April 29 Update From KBI”, April 2021. <https://drive.google.com/file/d/1lw3sTn0rVUN0YEpJquEhaJKRdplKFeV3/view?usp=sharing>

Sector(s): Tucson

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Dangerous Deportation

Accountability Status: Unknown

August 17, 2021

“A Guatemalan man who was migrating due to extreme poverty attempted crossing into the U.S.
near McAllen, Texas. Border Patrol apprehended him, held him under a highway bridge for
several days, then told him they would arrange transport to his family members in the United
States. They flew him to Tucson, and when they took him off the flight, told him they would take
him to a place where he could sign papers for the transport to his family. Instead, they put him
on a bus to Nogales, where he was expelled. He did not know he was being expelled until
he reached the port of entry.”

Source: Kino Border Initiative, “August 19 Update From KBI”, August 2021. <https://drive.google.com/file/d/1lw3sTn0rVUN0YEpJquEhaJKRdplKFeV3/view?usp=sharing>

Sector(s): Rio Grande Valley, Tucson

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Lying or Deliberate Misleading

Accountability Status: Unknown

August 15, 2021

“On August 15, 2021, Border Patrol Agents (BPAs) assigned to the Yuma Border Patrol Station apprehended a group of 27 migrants approximately 1000 feet from the United States-Mexico border near County 8 ½ and Salinity Canal in Yuma, AZ. The BPAs noticed one of the migrants, a male Nicaraguan citizen, was exhibiting signs of heat-related distress. The BPAs requested medical assistance from a local Emergency Medical Services (EMS) provider.”

Unknown
Age: Unknown
Nationality: Nicaraguan
Cause of Death: Medical
Incident Date: August 15, 2021
Incident Location: Yuma, AZ

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

Sector(s): Yuma

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Fatal Encounter

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

August 15, 2021

“A woman who had severely injured her leg in the desert required emergency medical attention. Border Patrol took her to a hospital where she could be treated, but took her out of the hospital after a day and a half, despite the doctor’s recommendation that she stay for two weeks. Since her clothes were cut to treat her injury, she did not have anything left to wear. BP agents provided her with oversized disposable scrub pants and shirt, and no underwear. They then took her to their processing center, without any consideration for her or her injury. She was expelled into Mexico without proper clothing nor her prescribed medications.”

Source: Kino Border Initiative, “August 19 Update From KBI”, August 2021. <https://drive.google.com/file/d/1lw3sTn0rVUN0YEpJquEhaJKRdplKFeV3/view?usp=sharing>

Sector(s): Tucson

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Dangerous Deportation, Denial of Medical Care, Non-Return of Belongings

Accountability Status: Unknown

August 14, 2021

“A woman from Guatemala who was migrating with her younger sister was expelled to Nogales
last week after Border Patrol apprehended the sisters in the desert. Because the younger sister
was a minor and her older sister was not her legal guardian, the sisters were separated when
they were apprehended. The younger sister was kept in the custody of the Office of Refugee
Resettlement, and the older sister was expelled to Nogales. Border Patrol gave her no
information whatsoever about what they had done with her younger sister, and she had
no idea how to locate her. She was one of three women who came through KBI recently in the
same situation.”

Source: Kino Border Initiative, “August 19 Update From KBI”, August 2021. <https://drive.google.com/file/d/1lw3sTn0rVUN0YEpJquEhaJKRdplKFeV3/view?usp=sharing>

Sector(s): Tucson

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Family Separation

Accountability Status: Unknown

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

August 9, 2021

“[C]onditions at Border Patrol’s Anzalduas Bridge “Temporary Outdoor Processing Site” (TOPS) — a stretch of gravel and grass patches under an international highway in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley — risk the health and safety of the migrants who are detained there.
“…Border Patrol began holding migrants at this outdoor site buried deep on federal property and out of public view on Jan. 23, 2021. It has detained migrants, including families with children, under the Anzalduas Bridge ever since — except for the multiple times when the site, located in a flood plain, has been evacuated due to weather conditions.
“In late June 2021, we 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. Though we were not allowed to speak with those detained there, what we observed was deeply concerning.
“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.
“…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: Shaw Drake, Kate Huddleston, “Border Patrol Must Stop Holding People in an Inhumane Outside Pen Under a Highway in South Texas” (ACLU: August 9, 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

Accountability Status: No steps taken

August 7, 2021

“On August 7, 2021, at approximately 7:09 PM, a Jeep Liberty fled eastbound on State Road 86 (SR 86) after circumventing the primary inspection area of the U.S. Border Patrol Checkpoint located near Three Points, AZ. Border Patrol Agents (BPAs) assigned to the Tucson Border Patrol Station travelled eastbound on SR 86 attempting to locate the vehicle. A CBP Air and Marine Operations (AMO) helicopter crew responded to the area and located the vehicle travelling eastbound on SR 86. The AMO helicopter crew provided aerial surveillance of the vehicle providing updates as to its location to BPAs on the ground. The AMO pilot observed the Jeep Liberty drive erratically through several red lights as it continued into Tucson, AZ. The vehicle then entered onto northbound I-19, which is approximately 24 miles east of the SR 86 checkpoint.”

Unknown
Age: Unknown
Nationality: Unknown
Cause of Death: Fatal Car Chase
Incident Date: August 7, 2021
Incident Location: Marana, 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, Vehicle Pursuit

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

August 5, 2021

“On August 5, 2021, Border Patrol Agents (BPAs) responded to reported migrant traffic in a rural area approximately three miles southeast of Rio Grande City, TX, and approximately less than a mile north of the United States – Mexico border. BPAs arrived at the location and discovered a male citizen from El Salvador in medical distress. The BPAs immediately requested emergency medical services (EMS). Due to the remoteness of the location where BPAs discovered the man, they transported him to a nearby location that was more easily accessible to EMS.”

Unknown
Age: Unknown
Nationality: El Salvador 
Cause of Death: Medical
Incident Date: August 05, 2021
Incident Location: Rio Grande, 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

August 3, 2021

On August 3, 2021, two individuals were killed and eight were injured as a result of a vehicle pursuit by Border Patrol near Border Patrol’s permanent interior checkpoint on New Mexico State Road 185. Details of the events surrounding the crash are only available via CBP’s own press release, which the agency did not issue until August 17, 2021, fourteen days after the incident. CBP’s statement initially reported only one death and did not include information about the U.S. citizen who died as a result of the vehicle pursuit and crash.

Early in the morning of August 3, 2021, a Border Patrol agent assigned to the Las Cruces, New Mexico, U.S. Border Patrol Station was reportedly patrolling New Mexico State Road 185 approximately six miles south of the Border Patrol checkpoint, which is located approximately 69 miles north of the U.S.-Mexico border. According to CBP, the agent witnessed a northbound vehicle pull to the side of the road and then proceed north. The Border Patrol agent reportedly followed the vehicle without activating his emergency equipment. The vehicle reportedly evaded the Border Patrol checkpoint by driving onto the southbound lanes of New Mexico State Road 185 and then continued north, at which time the Border Patrol agent activated his emergency equipment and attempted to stop the vehicle. Another Border Patrol unit also reportedly pursued the vehicle. Approximately three miles north of the Border Patrol checkpoint, the vehicle crashed. Several occupants were ejected from the vehicle. The agency’s statement simply claims “the driver lost control and crashed,” but does not indicate the location or conduct of Border Patrol
agents’ vehicles immediately preceding the crash.

Source: ACLU Texas, “ACLU demands Customs and Border Protection investigate recent deadly vehicle pursuit, release vehicle pursuit policy”, August 2021. <https://www.aclutx.org/en/press-releases/aclu-demands-customs-and-border-protection-investigate-recent-deadly-vehicle-pursuit>

Sector(s): Border-Wide

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Disregard of Public Health, Weak Oversight

Accountability Status: No steps taken

August 2, 2021

“Yuma Sector Border Patrol agents responding to a 911 call early Sunday morning rescued three migrants in distress and found one deceased.”

Unknown
Age: Unknown
Nationality: Mexican
Cause of Death: Unknown
Incident Date: August 02, 2021
Incident Location: Yuma, AZ

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

Sector(s): Yuma

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Fatal Encounter

Accountability Status:

August 2, 2021

“On August 2, 2021, Border Patrol Agents (BPAs) were alerted to the presence of a group of suspected undocumented migrants inside a ranch approximately 17 miles south of Eagle Pass, Texas near Highway 277. BPAs assigned to the Eagle Pass South (EGS) Border Patrol Station responded and began tracking the group of migrants. After approximately nine hours of tracking the group, BPAs located and apprehended seven migrants while several other individuals fled. BPAs continued to search for these individuals.”

Unknown
Age: Unknown
Nationality: El Salvador
Cause of Death: Unknown
Incident Date: August 02, 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: Complaint filed with OPR, Shared with DHS OIG

August 1, 2021

“A Guatemalan man in a group of six entered the United States and  encountered Border Patrol agents. One of the agents pushed one of the men down  with a knee on his back. Another man from the group was running, and the dog the  agents brought with them attacked him and knocked him face down into a cactus.  One of the spines penetrated near his eye, causing his face to bleed. When the man  with eye injury asked for help, the agents said no, and that this is what happens to  people who come here. An agent grabbed the Guatemalan man who filed this  complaint by the back of the neck and shoved him. The agent lunged to try to shove  him again; when he ducked down the agent kept going forward and hurt himself on  the cactus spines. Angered by this, the agent grabbed the Guatemalan man by the  neck. The man said he felt like he was being choked. The Guatemalan man was  injured as he had cactus spines stuck in his legs. He was not allowed to take them  out until the next day. The Guatemalan man’s brother-in-law was also in the group.  He was dehydrated and vomiting. As he lay on the ground, begging for water, an  agent put his foot on the man’s back and then kneeled on him. It was not until they  arrived at a temporary outpost nearly two hours later that they got water. The  group was expelled to Nogales, Sonora the next morning, where Kino then took  them to the hospital.”

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

Sector(s):

Agency(ies): CBP

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

Accountability Status: No steps taken