Organizational Culture Events where the event type is “Weak Oversight”

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 to Public Health, Weak Oversight

Accountability Status: No steps taken

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

August 7, 2020

NBC News reports:

“The sidelining by the Trump appointees [Acting Secretary Chad Wolf and his deputy, Ken Cuccinelli] is felt acutely in the agency’s Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, or CRCL, where employees hired to field complaints about DHS and review new policies believe they are not being heard, said the two current [DHS] officials, who agreed to speak on condition of anonymity.

“In recent months, CRCL has raised concerns about the development of a new use-of-force policy for Customs and Border Protection, the two current officials said, including concerns about the use of chemical deterrents against people trying to damage the wall on the southern U.S. border. But after raising those concerns, the office has yet to hear back on whether agents will be allowed to use chemicals to deter people trying to damage the wall.

“According to recent reports, Cuccinelli removed CRCL from its usual role of reviewing the reports from the Office of Intelligence and Analysis, the office recently accused of collecting intelligence on journalists covering the protests in Portland, Oregon.”

Source: Julia Ainsley and Laura Strickler, “DHS staffers say Trump appointees Wolf, Cuccinelli ignoring input on protests, immigration policy” (NBC News, August 7, 2020) <https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/immigration/dhs-staffers-say-trump-appointees-wolf-cuccinelli-ignoring-input-protests-n1236040>

Sector(s): Border-Wide

Agency(ies): DHS

Event Type(s): Crowd Control, Use of Force, Weak Oversight

Accountability Status: No steps taken

June 25, 2020

The following cases and patterns of persistent toxic behavior are from a July 2020 complaint about Border Patrol’s Vehicle Pursuit Policy and the Deadly Pursuit and Crash on June 25, 2020 in El Paso filed by the ACLU to the CRCL and DHS OIG.

“On June 25, 2020, another Border Patrol vehicle chase led to a crash that killed  seven people in the same location in El Paso, TX. Gustavo Cervantes, 18, of El  Paso; Yadira Barrera, 16, of El Paso; Liliana Jimenez, 16, of El Paso; Jorge  Manuel Acosta, 19, of El Paso; Oscar Miguel Garcia- Bran, 21, of Guatemala;  Elvira Tot-Chiroy, 19, of Guatemala; and Santos Porfirio-Garcia, 32, of Guatemala were reported deceased by either the El Paso Police or their family  members. Wilmer Gomez of Guatemala was one of three survivors in the vehicle  and says he remembers being chased by approximately seven Border Patrol  vehicles. Other witnesses also recount that Border Patrol vehicles were speeding  in pursuit when the crash occurred.”

“Border Patrol engages in dangerous vehicle pursuit cases that result in an  increase number of deaths and injuries, including a deadly crash that killed seven in El Paso in 2020. Border Patrol refuses to release their vehicle pursuit policy, thereby  making it impossible to review its compliance with relevant guidelines, legal  protections, or police best practices. The high number of injuries and deaths resulting  from Border Patrol’s actions suggest either that the policy fails to protect the safety  and lives of pursuit subjects or that agents are consistently acting outside the bounds of agency policy.”

“From 2015 to 2018 alone, at least 250 people were injured and 22 were killed in a  vehicle crash due to a vehicle pursuit by Border Patrol. The number of people injured in Border Patrol pursuit crashes increased by 42  percent under the Trump administration.” 

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): Abuse of minor, Fatal Encounter, Use of Force, Weak Oversight

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

June 25, 2020

“A pickup truck crashed after a high speed chase involving Border Patrol. Gustavo Cervantes was the driver of the pickup and died in the crash. Oscar Miguel Garcia-Bran, Elvira Tot-Chiroy, Liliana Jimenez, Liliana Jimenez, Santos Porfirio-Garcia were the 7 passengers who died in the crash.”

Gustavo Cervantes
Age: 18
Nationality: American
Cause of Death: Car chase (Vehicle collision) 
Incident Date: June 25, 2020
Incident Location: El Paso, Texas

Oscar Miguel Garcia-Bran
Age: 21
Nationality: Guatemalan
Cause of Death: Car chase (Vehicle collision) 
Incident Date: June 25, 2020
Incident Location: El Paso, Texas

Elvira Tot-Chiroy
Age: 19
Nationality: Guatemalan
Cause of Death: Car chase (Vehicle collision) 
Incident Date: June 25, 2020
Incident Location: El Paso, Texas

Liliana Jimenez
Age: 16
Nationality: American
Cause of Death: Car chase (Vehicle collision) 
Incident Date: June 25, 2020
Incident Location: El Paso, Texas

Santos Porfirio-Garcia
Age: 32
Nationality: Guatemalan
Cause of Death: Car chase (Vehicle collision) 
Incident Date: June 25, 2020
Incident Location: El Paso, Texas

Name Withheld 
Age: 19
Nationality: U.S.
Cause of Death: Car chase (Vehicle collision) 
Incident Date: June 25, 2020
Incident Location: El Paso, Texas

Santos Porfirio-Garcia
Age: 32
Nationality: Guatemalan
Cause of Death: Car chase (Vehicle collision) 
Incident Date: June 25, 2020
Incident Location: El Paso, Texas

Name Withheld 
Age: 19
Nationality: U.S.
Cause of Death: Car chase (Vehicle collision) 
Incident Date: June 25, 2020
Incident Location: El Paso, Texas

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

Sector(s): El Paso

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Fatal Encounter, Vehicle Pursuit, Weak Oversight

Accountability Status: