Organizational Culture Events involving “Border Patrol” where the event type is “Conditions in Custody”

October 13, 2021

“A Fernando y su familia, el sueño americano se les había terminado cuando apenas empezaba. Según nos cuenta, ellos y unas 150 personas más, fueron obligados a caminar desde la frontera hasta la ciudad de McAllen, Texas. Caminaron unas dos horas y luego abordaron un bus que los condujo a las famosas hieleras, así les llaman los migrantes a los centros de detención, cuya característica es la de ser muy fríos. Ahí permanecieron cuatro días.

“Durante permanecieron en las «hieleras» tenían que bañarse a las 2 a. m. Fernando dice que sus niñas se enfermaron de las vías respiratorias. Como alimento recibían tortillas de harina y lechuga. Antes de entrar al centro de detención les pidieron el contacto y dirección de las personas que los esperaban en el gran país del norte. «Supuestamente les iban a llamar para que nos fueran a recoger, pero de ahí para allá no hubo nada, nos tuvieron cuatro días en la hielera sin saber nada», nos contó.

“El miércoles 13 de octubre, Fernando y su familia fueron llamados a una sala donde habían otras personas. Asegura que incluso llamaron a sus familiares y él pensaba que ya iba a reunirse con ellos. Los subieron a un bus, fueron llevados al aeropuerto en Mcallen y una vez en el avión Fernando sabía que algo no andaba bien. Preguntaron a los oficiales de migración qué pasaba y ellos contestaron que no sabían: «Cuando menos lo esperé el avión aterrizó y vimos que en el aeropuerto decía bienvenidos a Villa Hermosa».

“Una vez aterrizaron en la ciudad antes mencionada, jurisdicción del Estado de Tabasco, los migrantes reclamaban por qué eran dejados en suelo mexicano si no eran oriundos de ese país. En el aeropuerto los recogió migración de México y abordaron un nuevo bus, en el que viajaron a Corinto, frontera de Guatemala y Honduras. «Nos han traído a puro pan y agua», comenta Fernando tocándose el estómago. «Nos trajeron engañados porque supuestamente íbamos para donde nuestra familia, hasta les llamaron. Ahorita se sorprendieron cuando les dije que estaba en Honduras, pude llamar porque ya nos devolvieron los teléfonos», agrega.”

Source: Allan Bu, “En la Madrugada, e Ignorados por el Estado, Llegan a Corinto Miles de Hondurenos Deportados” (Contra Corriente, October 18, 2021) <https://contracorriente.red/2021/10/15/en-la-madrugada-e-ignorados-por-el-estado-llegan-a-corinto-miles-de-hondurenos-deportados>.

Sector(s): Rio Grande Valley

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

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

Accountability Status: No steps taken

September 2021

“In September 2021, DHS expelled an asylum-seeking Haitian family to Haiti after holding them for days in a freezing cell without sufficient food. DHS separated the family from an adult brother who had crossed into Del Rio, Texas with them where they had attempted to seek asylum together based on political persecution. The family remains in hiding in Haiti, terrified their persecutors will find them, according to Blaine Bookey from the UC Hastings Center for Gender & Refugee Studies.”

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): Del Rio

Agency(ies): Border Patrol, DHS

Event Type(s): Conditions in Custody, Denial of Asylum, Denial of Food or Water, Family Separation

Accountability Status:

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

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 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 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

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 to Public Health

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 5, 2021

“A Guatemalan man fled to the U.S. after receiving death threats from extortionists because the medical care
for his sick mother left him without enough money to pay them. While attempting to cross into the U.S., he
called 911 repeatedly for help after spending 10 days in the desert and being abandoned by his group
because of his extremely blistered feet. When nobody came for him, he made it to the highway around
midnight and encountered a Border Patrol agent, who made him sleep in the bed of the patrol truck overnight
in the cold.”

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

Sector(s): Tucson

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Conditions in Custody

Accountability Status: No steps taken

April 2, 2021

“A Guatemalan woman crossed into the United States walking through the desert. She became ill and fainted. When she came to, a Border Patrol Agent was standing over her. She was taken to an outpost and processed. There, she told the agents about the violence she had faced, and that she had proof of threats she had received. The agent said he didn’t speak Spanish but that she should take it up with officers at the next station. In Tucson, she was made to remove her outerwear (her jacket and two shirts and a pair of pants) even though the facility was cold. She was sent into room with a TV, and on the TV screen it said that if anyone was experiencing violence, they should speak to an agent. She then called the agents and said she wanted to apply for asylum. They told her that was unavailable because of the pandemic. The agents started yelling at her that she should have gone to a port of entry if she wanted asylum, and that she was breaking the law by coming this way. They said to her that she was doing what the mafia does, crossing the border illegally. Additionally, officers threw the name of her abuser in her face and taunted her, telling her they were going to call him. She felt humiliated by the agent’s actions. By this time, she had had three separate agents decline to help her apply for asylum. She was expelled to Mexico the next 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): Abusive Language, Conditions in Custody, Denial of Asylum

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

March 23, 2021

“A Mexican man entered the United States when individuals associated with organized crime demanded he carry a backpack full of drugs into the United States and threatened him with a razor. When he refused, they beat him. Once the Mexican man regained consciousness, he turned himself in to Border Patrol. He told agents what happened to him, where Border Patrol could find the drugs and the men who assaulted him who belonged to a criminal gang. Still, the agents kept the man in the vehicle the whole day, picking up other immigrants and giving him only water to drink. Once they came to the CBP facility and he was processed, he repeated what had happened to him. The CBP agent there laughed and asked if he wanted to file a police report. When he said yes, the agent said it would take too long. He was never given an opportunity to express his fears about returning to Mexico or give information about the crime that had been committed against him. He was never given medical attention while in CBP custody and was left alone in a cell for long stretches of time despite his weakened state. He was soon expelled back to Mexico.”

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, Denial of Food or Water

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

February 4, 2021

“Twenty-nine individuals subject to Title 42 expulsion over the last two weeks reported abuses at the hands of
Border Patrol Agents, including verbal and physical abuse, nighttime expulsion, not returning belongings,
denial of access to due process for asylum and refusal of medical attention while in BP custody.
7 of the last 14 days, migrants have arrived at our migrant aid center after being expelled between 10PM and
5AM.”

Source: Kino Border Initiative, “February 4 Update From KBI”, July 2021.

Sector(s): Tucson

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Abusive Language, Conditions in Custody, Denial of Asylum, Denial of Medical Care, Non-Return of Belongings, Use of Force

Accountability Status: Complaint filed with CRCL

September 8, 2020

Ms. Doe’s harrowing ten-day period of detention in DHS custody began on September 8, 2020, when she and her husband once again attempted to enter the United States, this time turning themselves in to Border Patrol agents and requesting asylum. Agents transported Ms. Doe and her husband to the Chula Vista Border Patrol Station. Once there, Ms. Doe notified the agents that she was pregnant, even showing them photos from a recent ultrasound she had undergone while in Tijuana. Notwithstanding, Border Patrol agents separated Ms. Doe from her husband immediately after processing.

The Border Patrol forced Ms. Doe to remove all outer layers of clothing, leaving her upper body clothed in only a sleeveless, thin-strapped blouse. Border Patrol agents gave Ms. Doe a floor mat and silver colored plastic (Mylar) sheet to use as a blanket before placing her in a large holding cell. The toilet and sink to which Ms. Doe had access in her holding cell lacked safeguards for privacy. Ms. Doe was never allowed to bathe while in Border Patrol custody and was instead provided a single moist towelette to clean her entire body every three to four days. She was also only provided a small plastic stick with a sponge tip every three to four days to brush her teeth. The Border Patrol kept the cell lights on 24 hours per day, which made it difficult for Ms. Doe to fall asleep. Ms. Doe felt very cold in the holding cell, unable to warm up with the Mylar sheet, and unable to sleep or rest.

 Despite her multiple requests, Ms. Doe was denied access to her prenatal vitamins and was never given an equivalent supplement while in CBP custody. 

On her seventh day in Border Patrol custody, Ms. Doe observed agents taking her husband and his belongings out of the holding cell in which he had been detained. She was never given an opportunity to talk to him before he was taken away. She panicked as she saw the agents removing him from the facility, and began banging on the cell door pleading for the agents’ attention. An agent informed Ms. Doe that her husband was being transferred to an ICE detention center and that she would soon be transferred as well. She recalls an agent explaining, to her horror, that many pregnant women are detained in ICE custody and that she could give birth while detained. Ms. Doe felt frozen in that moment, unable to catch her breath, with her hands going numb, and her heart rate accelerating. Ms. Doe soon caught the attention of a medical provider in the station, who explained that she had most likely experienced an anxiety attack.

After nine days detained at the Chula Vista Border Patrol Station, Ms. Doe was informed that she would be transferred to an ICE detention center. She was transported to a different location and spent her last night in a different holding cell with three other women. The following day, immigration officials transported her to an office where she was instructed to sign multiple documents she did not understand and told that she had court scheduled for November 18, 2020.

Thereafter, Ms. Doe was transported to a local San Diego hotel where she was greeted by Jewish Family Service San Diego Migrant Family Shelter (“JFS”) staff. JFS staff were the first to explain to Ms. Doe that she was out of immigration custody and would be reunited with her family in the United States after completing a fourteen-day quarantine period in the shelter. Ms. Doe eventually learned that her husband was in ICE custody at the Otay Mesa Detention Center, where he remains as of the date of this submission.8 Prior to learning his whereabouts, Ms. Doe spent thirteen agonizing days without hearing from him, worrying about his safety and wellbeing.

Ms. Doe is currently five months pregnant. Her separation from the father of her child has caused her stress, anxiety, and emotional turmoil. She fears that her husband might not be present for their first child’s birth, and that she will have to go through the experience alone without his support. Worse yet, Ms. Doe’s source of greatest distress is the possibility that her husband will be deported to danger in their country of origin, without ever being be able to see or hold their child. 

Source: ACLU, “Unresolved OIG Complaints” p. 125, March 2020. <https://www.aclu.org/legal-document/appendix-13-unresolved-oig-complaints>

Sector(s): San Diego

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Conditions in Custody, Denial of Medical Care, Family Separation, Inappropriate Deportation, Lying or Deliberate Misleading

Accountability Status: Shared with DHS OIG

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

April 9, 2020

A Honduran woman gave birth to her baby while standing up, holding on to the side of a trash can in a Border Patrol station, she and her family told the American Civil Liberties Union. She was still wearing her pants. They were in the midst of being processed by agents at the Chula Vista Border Patrol Station near San Diego, and she had repeatedly asked the agents for help, telling them how much pain she was in. Instead, she was repeatedly told to sit down and wait to be processed, she said. After about 30 minutes, her husband could hear the baby crying through the fabric of her pants. He lowered them and saw his baby’s head. Their daughters, ages 2 and 12, looked on.

The dramatic birth was detailed in a complaint provided to BuzzFeed News and filed Wednesday by the ACLU and Jewish Family Service of San Diego with the US Department of Homeland Security’s Office of the Inspector General. The complaint, based on interviews with the family and a review of the woman’s medical records, accuses the Border Patrol agents involved of abuse, demanding the inspector general conduct an investigation.

Source: Buzzfeed News, “A Woman Gave Birth in a Border Patrol Station Still Wearing Her Pants. Now the Aclu Is Accusing the Agency of Abuse.” April 2020 <https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/emaoconnor/pregnant-woman-birth-border-patrol-aclu-complaint>.

Sector(s): San Diego

Agency(ies): Border Patrol, CBP

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

Accountability Status: No further action, Shared with DHS OIG

March 27, 2020

The following cases and patterns of persistent toxic behavior are from a March 2020 complaint, by the ACLU to the CRCL and DHS OIG, about Border Patrol Station 1 in El Paso, Texas failing to adequately respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Border Patrol Station 1 in El Paso failed to respond to the COVID-19  pandemic by any public health metric. Agents failed to inform those detained of vital public health information; make vital, basic logistical accommodations to mitigate  and prevent spread of the virus amongst detained persons and agents; or provide basic  sanitary needs to prevent dissemination of the virus. The complaint calls for an  investigation of the conditions and recommends various needed protocols.”

“i. Held over 150 persons in a single room with persons exhibiting flu-like symptoms;  

ii. Failed to provide information to detained individuals on the COVID-19  pandemic, such as recommended Center for Disease Control and  Prevention (CDC) guidelines for preventing transmission of the virus; 

iii. Held people in cells where they are forced to be in close contact with each  other, including by sleeping approximately three feet apart; 

iv. Failed to provide detained individuals with sufficient soap. (for example, migrants reported that in one bathroom, only one of six sinks had a soap  dispenser that in fact contained soap); 

v. Provided only a single square of toilet paper per use; 

vi. Denied detained individuals access to hand sanitizer;  

vii. Failed to provide adequate medical screening of detained individuals not  exhibiting symptoms of illness; and  

viii. Failed to ensure uniform access to personal protective equipment for  everyone in the detention facility.”

Source: Shaw Drake and Jonathan Blazer, ACLU, Letter to DHS Secretary Mayorkas, “Re: Unresolved Complaints of CBP Misconduct Require Immediate Attention and Accountability,” March 3, 2021.  

Sector(s): El Paso

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

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

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

February 18, 2020

The following cases and patterns of persistent toxic behavior are from a February 18, 2020 complaint about abuse and mistreatment of detained sick children filed by the ACLU to the CRCL and DHS OIG.

“CBP detention devastates children’s mental and physical development; children have died while in custody, and conditions are often inhumane and abusive.”

“At the emergency room, a doctor determined that a 6-week-old child was  dehydrated and constipated. The doctor explained that there was little he could do  for the baby and insisted that the baby see a pediatrician as soon as possible.  Instead—and in direct contravention of this medical advice—the Border Patrol  returned the child and her mother to detention. On the family’s fifth day of detention, they were finally released to the San Diego Migrant Family Shelter. The mother recalled that, at the child’s final check-up in  Tijuana, shortly before the family had arrived in the United States, she had  weighed 5 kilos 200 grams (11.46 pounds). By the time the child was weighed at the San Diego Migrant Shelter, she weighed only 4 kilos (8.82 pounds).”

Source: Shaw Drake and Jonathan Blazer, ACLU, Letter to DHS Secretary Mayorkas, “Re: Unresolved Complaints of CBP Misconduct Require Immediate Attention and Accountability,” March 3, 2021.

Sector(s): San Diego

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

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

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

February 16, 2020

A pregnant Guatemalan woman was forced to give birth to her baby, with her pants on and holding on to the side of a trash can at the Chula Vista Border Patrol Station near San Diego. “…she had repeatedly asked the agents for help, telling them how much pain she was in. Instead, she was repeatedly told to sit down and wait to be processed… After about 30 minutes, her husband could hear the baby crying through the fabric of her pants. He lowered them and saw his baby’s head.”

The Guatemalan woman and the baby’s father had migrated with “their two young daughters and arrived at the San Isidro Port of Entry in San Diego in mid-May 2019, nine months before she gave birth. They were sent back to Mexico and spent nine months in a camp in Tijuana, presenting themselves at the border for three separate immigration hearings… During their wait, the woman became pregnant, with a due date of mid-March 2020.”

On February 16, 2020, ” the woman began receiving calls from the persecutors the family was fleeing… They began to harass her and threaten her… The family decided they couldn’t wait any longer. They set out to cross the border illegally, outside the port of entry, understanding they were like to be apprehended by ICE, but that they would be safer in U.S. detainment than in the camps.”

“As they crossed the desert, the woman began to feel contractions and immense pain… They were soon apprehended by a Border Patrol agent. The woman was in clear distress, and her husband begged the agent for medical attention, but instead the agent loaded the family into his car and giving them a ‘rough ride’ (an abusive practice in which some border agents reportedly purposefully drive so badly as to fling detainees around the car.”

“Shortly after [the birth], the woman was separated from her family and brought to a local hospital where she stayed for two nights. As she received postpartum care, a border agent remained in the room with her, not allowed her privacy. In the hospital, she was also diagnosed with influenza.”

“After she was discharged from the hospital, the Border Patrol agent brought her back to the station with her newborn — and, because she had symptoms of the flu, put her and her family into a quarantine cell… These cells are notoriously freezing cold, but when the woman asked for a blanket for her newborn, she was denied.”

The birth was detailed in a complaint [1] filed by the ACLU and Jewish Family Service of San Diego with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Office of the Inspector General.

Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal led a letter with 12 other members of Congress to the Department of Homeland Security Inspector General Joseph Cuffari demanding an investigation [2].

[1] Monika Y. Langarica, Kate Clark, and Dr. Kay Daniels, “Re: U.S. Border Patrol’s Abuse and Mistreatment of [REDACTED]” (ACLU and Jewish Family Service, April 8, 2020) <https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/6827805-2020-04-07-OIG-Cmplt-Final-Redacted.html>

[2] Senator Richard Blumenthal et al, “Re: CBP Mistreating Pregnant Detainees,” (United States Senate, April 8, 2020) <https://www.blumenthal.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/2020.04.08%20DHS%20OIG%20Letter%20re%20CBP%20Mistreating%20Pregnant%20Detainees.pdf>

Source: Ema O’Connor, “A Woman Gave Birth In a Border Patrol Station Still Wearing Pants. Now The Agents Involved Are Being Accused of Abuse” (BuzzFeed News, April 9, 2020) <https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/emaoconnor/pregnant-woman-birth-border-patrol-aclu-complaint>

Sector(s): San Diego

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Abuse of minor, Conditions in Custody, Denial of Medical Care, Family Separation, Gender-based Violence

Accountability Status: Shared with DHS OIG

February 16, 2020

On Feb. 16 this year, a Guatemalan woman began receiving calls from the persecutors the family was fleeing, the complaint states. They began to harass her and threaten her, saying they knew she was in Tijuana and could come find her and her family. Their next immigration hearing wasn’t until May, a year after they first arrived at the border, and the family decided they couldn’t wait any longer. They set out to cross the border illegally, outside the port of entry, understanding they were likely to be apprehended by ICE, but that they would be safer in US detainment than in the camps. As they crossed the desert, the woman began to feel contractions and immense pain, she later told the ACLU. Even before they set out on their journey, she had a severe cough — but now it was growing worse. Her husband grew so concerned he attempted to call 911 from the middle of the desert, the family told the ACLU, but the call did not go through. They were soon apprehended by a Border Patrol agent. The woman was in clear distress, and her husband begged the agent for medical attention, the complaint says, but instead the agent loaded the family into his car and giving them a “rough ride” (an abusive practice in which some border agents purposefully drive badly so as to fling detainees around the car), the complaint says, and brought them to the Chula Vista Border Patrol Station for processing.

Source: Buzzfeed News, “A Woman Gave Birth in a Border Patrol Station Still Wearing Her Pants. Now the Aclu Is Accusing the Agency of Abuse.” April 2020 <https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/emaoconnor/pregnant-woman-birth-border-patrol-aclu-complaint>.

Sector(s): San Diego

Agency(ies): Border Patrol, CBP

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

Accountability Status: Shared with DHS OIG

January 22, 2020

The following cases and patterns of persistent toxic behavior are from a January 22, 2020 complaint about abuse and mistreatment of detained pregnant people filed by the ACLU to CRCL and DHS OIG.

“CBP agents mistreated detained pregnant people and held them in inhumane conditions. The complaint includes the detailed accounts of four women who were mistreated, abused, and/or neglected by CBP while detained.”

“Border Patrol stations lacked bedding, showers, and staff trained to interact with or assist traumatized or otherwise vulnerable populations, include pregnant people who are at risk of dire health outcomes (including miscarriages and stillbirths).”

“A woman reported that, during her initial processing, a Border Patrol agent subjected her to excessive force. The agent, apparently infuriated that she and her  friend were speaking to each other while awaiting processing, forcibly grabbed  her by the arm and took her out of her seat. The agent then grabbed her by the shoulders from behind and slammed her face-first against a chain link fence three  times. She attempted to shield her protruding stomach from the fence—crying out  “You’re hurting me! I’m pregnant!”—yet the agent continued to throw her against  the fence.”

“Another woman reported that the food she received was spoiled and served cold;  she could not bring herself to eat it. She feared the water was not potable because the water supply was connected to (and on top of) the toilet in her cell. She was not provided with any hygiene products (toothbrush, toothpaste, sanitary pads).  Taken into custody in wet and mud-covered clothing, she was neither permitted a change of clothing nor provided a chance to shower for the duration of her detention.”

“Additional information obtained from a FOIA request filed by the ACLU National Prison Project… The ACLU received a CRCL spreadsheet which included 42 additional cases involving CBP’s mistreatment of pregnant persons. Reported conduct ranges from verbal abuse to physical assault to failed provision of medical care.

“On April 10, 2019, CRCL received a CBP Info Center referral regarding alleged CBP misconduct towards a family, including a pregnant mother, at the Ambassador Bridge port of entry in Detroit, Michigan. The complaint alleges that  15 CBP officers surrounded their vehicle and groped the pregnant woman and her  15- month-old child in their genital areas during a search of the family and  vehicle. The father described the officers as racist, unprofessional, and inadequately trained.”

Source: Shaw Drake and Jonathan Blazer, ACLU, Letter to DHS Secretary Mayorkas, “Re: Unresolved Complaints of CBP Misconduct Require Immediate Attention and Accountability,” March 3, 2021.

Sector(s): Border-Wide

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Abusive Language, Conditions in Custody, Denial of Food or Water, Denial of Medical Care, Gender-based Violence, Use of Force

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