Organizational Culture Events in “Del Rio”

October 24, 2021

CNN reports about migrants arrested for “trespassing” by Texas state police, then imprisoned for months without being charged or having access to counsel:

The man was held in jail for 52 days before he was charged with the misdemeanor offense of criminal trespass, his attorney says. For 43 of those days — more than six weeks — he had no access to a lawyer, he told CNN. And the man said there were long gaps, sometimes two weeks, when he was not allowed to make any phone call to tell his wife how he was.

…two migrants who talked to CNN last week said they knew several men in their jail pods who had been waiting up to three months to talk to a lawyer.
One said the unrepresented men begged the others to raise their cases.
“‘Ask about us. Tell them we have 90 days, 80 days and we haven’t seen an attorney. We don’t know anything and here we are,’” he says he is told.
CNN raised the concerns with the TIDC [Texas Indigent Defense Commission]. The commission said it then located at least one person arrested in May and held in jail who did not have a lawyer. That person was assigned counsel Thursday night.

Source: Rosa Flores, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s Anti-Migrant Plan: Many Arrested, Many Detained, Few Prosecuted (CNN, Monday, October 25, 2021) <https://edition.cnn.com/2021/10/24/us/texas-migrant-trespass-detentions/index.html>.

Sector(s): Del Rio

Agency(ies): Texas State Police

Event Type(s): Conditions in Custody, Denial of Access to Counsel

Accountability Status: Unknown

October 24, 2021

CNN reports that Texas authorities are forcing migrants onto private property in order to arrest them for trespassing.

[Body-worn camera] video that, Martinez [David Martinez, the Val Verde County Attorney in charge of prosecuting misdemeanors] says, appears to show a Texas state trooper directing the migrants onto the private property before arresting one of them for trespass.
Martinez said he rejected the case.
…Martinez has more. He pulls a file he says contains the cases of 11 other migrants who alleged that law enforcement zip-tied them in pairs, walked them about 20 minutes and made them scale a 10-foot fence. They were later arrested by state troopers for criminal trespassing, documents show.

Source: Rosa Flores, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s Anti-Migrant Plan: Many Arrested, Many Detained, Few Prosecuted (CNN, Monday, October 25, 2021) https://edition.cnn.com/2021/10/24/us/texas-migrant-trespass-detentions/index.html.

Sector(s): Del Rio

Agency(ies): Texas State Police

Event Type(s): Conditions of Arrest or Apprehension

Accountability Status: Unknown

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:

September 2021

“Belone Mpembele, an asylum seeker from Angola, was expelled to Haiti by the United States due to its failure to provide access to the U.S asylum system or even screen individuals at the border in its rush to expel Haitians in September 2021.”

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): Dangerous Deportation, Denial of Asylum, Inappropriate Deportation

Accountability Status: Unknown

September 21, 2021

“In the past few days, a large number of migrants—primarily Haitian and seeking asylum and other protection in the United States—have crossed into Del Rio, Texas, to await processing by DHS at a processing center located under an international bridge. On September 18, DHS announced a plan to address the increased number of migrants awaiting immigration processing in the area and began removing some Haitians to their home country the following day.[2] The same day, Border Patrol agents mounted on horseback sought to stop Haitian migrants on the U.S. side of the Rio Grande from entering the encampment, charging families and individuals on the river bank and using abusive language against at least one family.[3] Extensive video and photo documentation shows appalling use of force by agents against migrants. For example, one image shows a mounted Border Patrol agent grabbing a man by the shirt has he stands bare foot with his hands full of food.[4] Video footage showed horse mounted agents again engaging migrants on the banks of the river and in one instance nearly trampling a young child.[5] Another video shows a Border Patrol agent on horseback hitting the water near one man with his lariat before knocking the man back into the water with his horse.[6] The man is carrying what appear to be containers of food.

“On September 20, during a press conference U.S. Border Patrol Chief Raul L. Ortiz confirmed that Border Patrol Horse Patrol units remain a part of the agency’s “security response.” While Chief Ortiz claimed agents on horseback do not know who coming across the river “are the smugglers and who are the migrants,” videos show mounted agents riding up to families with small children and individuals carrying bags of food. Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas went on to claim that long reins seen in footage are used to “ensure control of the horses.”[7]

“…The Constitution prohibits the use of excessive force[12] and requires that use of force by law enforcement be proportional to a threat and escalated only in response to that threat.[13] CBP’s own Use of Force policy also only permits the use of “a reasonable amount of force” when an individual’s entry presents an “imminent threat” to officers, agents, or others.[14]

“Video footage of Border Patrol’s actions in this incident clearly demonstrate that the migrants being encountered by mounted agents did not present an imminent threat. In one video an agent stops a family with small children, makes derogatory and xenophobic comments to the family, and then maneuvers his horse in a way that comes dangerously close to trampling a child.[15] Other footage shows agents wielding lariats and maneuvering their horses in a menacing fashion against individuals carrying food back to the encampment in the United States, traffic across the river the agency was undoubtedly aware of prior to deploying mounted units to the U.S. riverbank.

“In one video, a mounted Border Patrol agent is heard stating “This is why your country’s shit, because you use your women for this!”[16] CBP’s National Standards on Transport, Escort, Detention, and Search (“TEDS”) requires agents to “speak and act with the utmost integrity and professionalism,” “treat all individuals with dignity and respect,” and “perform their duties in a nondiscriminatory manner.”[17] Agents simply did not uphold those standards in this instance.

“Further, DHS policy requires that all agency components–including CBP–“shall have appropriate written policies and procedures regarding the use of authorized control tactics or techniques; authorized less-lethal devices; and necessary training and certifications—both initial and recurring.”[18] Nevertheless, CBP’s Use of Force policy does not include guidelines for the use of mounted horse patrol, despite their potential for causing lethal or non-lethal harm. In fact, Border Patrol’s Horse Patrol Program is consistently described by the agency as necessary for accessing terrain in accessible by vehicles, not as a tool of deterrence or use of force against migrants.[19] CBP’s publicly available policy materials also do not indicate that mounted agents receive crowd control training for a use in the manner seen here.”

[2] DHS Outlines Strategy to Address Increase in Migrants in Del Rio, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Sept. 18, 2021, https://www.dhs.gov/news/2021/09/18/dhs-outlines-strategy-address-increase-migrants-del-rio; Molly Hennessy-Fiske, U.S. begins removing Haitian migrants, but they continue to flock to Texas border, LOS ANGELES TIMES, Sept. 19, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/world-nation/story/2021-09-19/haitian-migrants-continue-to-flock-to-texas-border-some-flown-back-to-homeland-by-u-s.
[3] AFP News Agency, @AFP on Twitter, Sept. 19, 2021, 7:30 PM, https://twitter.com/afp/status/1439763779688882180.
[4] Id.
[5] See Daina Beth Solomon and Alberto Fajardo, “Trapped”: Migrants collecting food try to evade law enforcement at the U.S.-Mexico border, REUTERS, Sept. 20, 2021, https://www.reuters.com/world/us/trapped-migrants-collecting-food-try-evade-law-enforcement-us-mexico-border-2021-09-20/; Al Jazeera English, Haitian migrants undeterred as US begins removal flights, YouTube, Sept. 21, 2021, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UTFnKJqcPks.
[6] Sawyer Hackett, @SawyerHackett on Twitter, Sept. 20, 2021, 10:25 AM, https://twitter.com/SawyerHackett/status/1439989195871825921?s=20.
[7] NowThis News, DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas Holds a Press Briefing at U.S.-Mexico Border, YouTube, Sept. 20, 2021, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N7kF0PUDdfM.
[12] See generally, U.S. Const. Amend. IV and VIII.
[13] Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386, 388, 109 S. Ct. 1865, 1867, 104 L. Ed. 2d 443 (1989); see also Tennessee v. Garner, 471 U.S. 1, 3, 105 S. Ct. 1694, 1697, 85 L. Ed. 2d 1 (1985).
[14] See CBP, U.S. CUSTOMS AND BORDER PROTECTION (herein after “CBP”), 4500-002A, CBP Use of Force Policy, Jan. 2021, https://www.cbp.gov/sites/default/files/assets/documents/2021-Jul/cbp-use-of-force- policy_4500-002A.pdf at Chap. 3(A)(6), page 13.
[15] Al Jazeera English, Haitian migrants undeterred as US begins removal flights, YouTube, Sept. 21, 2021, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UTFnKJqcPks.
[16] John Holman, @johnholman100 on Twitter, Sept. 20, 2021, 7:43 AM, https://twitter.com/johnholman100/status/1439948289680363527?s=20.
[17] U.S. CUSTOMS AND BORDER PROTECTION, NAT’L STANDARDS ON TRANSPORT, ESCORT, DETENTION, AND SEARCH, at §§ 1.2 (Integrity and Professionalism) & 1.4 (Non-Discrimination Policy) (Oct. 2015), https://www.cbp.gov/document/directives/cbp-national-standards-transport-escort-detention-and-search.
[18] U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY, Department Policy on Use of Force, Policy Statement 044-05, Sept. 7, 2018, https://www.dhs.gov/sites/default/files/publications/mgmt/law- enforcement/mgmt-dir_044-05-department-policy-on-the-use-of-force.pdf.
[19] See e.g., U.S. CUSTOMS AND BORDER PROTECTION, What We Do, Last modified: June 21, 2021, https://www.cbp.gov/careers/usbp-what-we-do.

Source: Shaw Drake, Kathryn Huddleston, “Re: U.S. Border Patrol’s use of horses and verbal abuse against migrants in Del Rio, TX” (ACLU, September 21, 2021) <https://www.aclutx.org/sites/default/files/aclu_tx_cbp_oig_letter_re_border_patrol_in_del_rio.pdf>.

Sector(s): Del Rio

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Abusive Language, Use of Force

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

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

June 23, 2021

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

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

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

Sector(s): Del Rio

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Fatal Encounter

Accountability Status:

March 28, 2021

“On March 10, 2021, an adult male in United States Border Patrol custody in Eagle Pass, TX, began to exhibit signs of medical distress. Agents called for Emergency Medical Services and rendered aid. Shortly after, the man passed away. The event is being investigated by the Eagle Pass, Texas Police Department and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Office of Professional Responsibility.”

Unknown
Age: Unknown
Nationality:Unknown
Cause of Death: Unknown (Medical)
Incident Date: March 28, 2021
Incident Location: Eagle Pass, TX

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

Sector(s): Del Rio

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Fatal Encounter

Accountability Status: Complaint filed with OPR

July 26, 2020

“Border Patrol agents attempted to initiate a vehicle stop and the driver then attempted to elude agents by fleeing at a high rate of speed. Agents ultimately lost sight of the vehicle and it was located a short time later where it had rolled over. Agents arrived on scene and discovered several injured persons. Two people who are believed to be undocumented immigrants were killed in the crash.”

Unknown
Age: Unknown
Nationality: Unknown
Cause of Death: Car crash (Vehicle collision)
Incident Date: July 26, 2020
Incident Location: Del Rio, 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, Vehicle Pursuit

Accountability Status:

February 4, 2020

“James Paul Markowitz was apprehended surrounding an “illegal smuggling incident” on
February 4, 2020. Markowitz began exhibiting “signs of distress” that evening, and was
administered first aid, then transferred to a local hospital, where he was pronounced
dead.”

James Paul Markowitz
Age: 32 
Nationality: American
Cause of Death: Unknown
Incident Date: February 4, 2020
Incident Location: Bracketville, Texas

A US Citizen Died While Being Detained By Border Patrol Agents Over A “Smuggling Incident

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, Vehicle Pursuit

Accountability Status: