Organizational Culture Events in “Rio Grande Valley” where the event type is “Denial of Medical Care”

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 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

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

March 15, 2020

Ms. Doe fled Cuba along with her husband in June 2019. They arrived at the United States- Mexico border in September 2019 and presented themselves at the Hidalgo Port of Entry to seek asylum. They were detained for two days in CBP custody before being placed in the so-called “Migrant Protection Protocols” (“MPP”) and forced to remain in Mexico during the pendency of their immigration court proceedings. Over the next several months, they were paroled into the United States for multiple court hearings. At the conclusion of each hearing, they were returned to the city of Reynosa in Mexico. In March 2020, an immigration judge denied Ms.Doe and her husband asylum. They both reserved appeal and were returned to Reynosa for an indefinite period of time. There, the couple faced the tremendous challenges of navigating a global pandemic in a foreign country, without critical resources. Ms.Doe and her husband both fell ill, yet due to their lack of access to medical care, they could not get treatment. Ms. Doe’s husband additionally suffered threats and extortion in Mexico.

Fearful of ever-present threats to their safety, overwhelmed by unrelenting pandemic circumstances, and without legal counsel, the couple was unable to timely submit their immigration appeal. Consequently, the pair made the difficult decision to request asylum once more at a port of entry—this time, in Tijuana. When they arrived at the port of entry, however, U.S. immigration officers told the couple that the border was “closed” due to the coronavirus pandemic, and turned them away.

Source: ACLU, “Unresolved OIG Complaints” p. 123, March 2020. <https://www.aclu.org/legal-document/appendix-13-unresolved-oig-complaints>

Sector(s): Rio Grande Valley

Agency(ies): CBP

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

Accountability Status: Shared with DHS OIG