Organizational Culture Events in “San Diego”

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

June 26, 2021

“On June 26, 2021, a Border Patrol Agent (BPA) was observing traffic on a rural road near Boulevard, CA, when he noticed a red Honda travel southbound and then return northbound a few minutes later with additional occupants. The BPA conducted a vehicle stop and found four undocumented migrants inside the vehicle, including one in the trunk. As the occupants got out of the vehicle, the BPA noticed that one of the migrants in the back seat, a female later determined to be a Mexican citizen, was unresponsive. The BPA immediately requested medical assistance. Approximately 7 minutes later, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL-Fire) Emergency Medical Services arrived on scene. The woman was then transported to a local area hospital via helicopter, where she was later pronounced deceased.”

Unknown
Age: Unknown
Nationality: Mexican
Cause of Death: Medical
Incident Date: June 26, 2021
Incident Location: Boulevard, CA

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

Sector(s): San Diego

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Fatal Encounter

Accountability Status:

June 17, 2021

“Former LAPD officer and U.S. veteran, Janine Bouey, filed a complaint against the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) for her inhumane treatment at the border. This is the first step in a lawsuit against DHS. Janine, who is a Black woman, was sexually assaulted by agents at the Otay Mesa Port of Entry. In this lawsuit, she calls for DHS and CBP to take responsibility for their actions and end the practice of assault on women, including Black women. One year ago today, Janine was returning from her dentist and crossed the U.S. border at the Otay Mesa Port of Entry. She was singled out by a CBP officer while waiting in line. She was the only Black woman to be pulled from the line for questioning. The officer asked for Janine’s home address even though he was in possession of her license. The officer suggested that Janine might want his home address. The officer proceeded to escort her to a nearby building where she was eventually assaulted. Janine’s experience and training as a law enforcement officer informed her understanding that the actions taken by the CBP officers were well out of bounds of normal protocol. Janine filed a complaint with DHS about the officer’s actions shortly after the incident. To her knowledge, no disciplinary action was taken and the officers involved in the incident remain at work.”

Source: “Abuse, Assault and Impunity at Dhs Must Stop: Former Lapd Officer Subjected to Sexual Assault by Dhs Sues the Agency” (Alliance San Diego, June 17, 2021 <https://www.alliancesd.org/abuse_assault_and_impunity_at_dhs_must_stop_former_lapd_officer_subjected_to_sexual_assault_by_dhs_sues_the_agency?fbclid=IwAR1RvOCy1klavU7_CDsDXw3z-XHLfks8b0o5gtJTXlDNSHXkdlHNowyZCzQ>.

Sector(s): San Diego

Agency(ies): CBP

Event Type(s): Use of Force

Accountability Status: No further action, Shared with DHS OIG

May 14, 2021

Sheriff’s officials on Tuesday identified the 26-year-old San Diego resident whom Border Patrol agents fatally shot last week following a pursuit in Campo.

Three agents opened fire on Silvestre Vargas Estrada just before 10:30 p.m. Friday, shooting him through the windshield of the car he was driving, sheriff’s homicide Lt. Thomas Seiver said. The incident happened near a gas station on Campo Road and Buckman Springs Road.

Two passengers in the car — Mexican men suspected of entering the country illegally — were uninjured, officials said.

Source: San Diego Union Tribune, “Authorities ID San Diego man shot, killed by Border Patrol agents”, May 2021. <https://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/public-safety/story/2021-05-18/authorities-id-san-diego-man-shot-killed-by-border-patrol-agents>

Sector(s): San Diego

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Fatal Encounter, Use of Force

Accountability Status: Complaint filed with OPR

February 4, 2021

“MARIA PUGA HAS been telling the story for more than a decade now. On May 28, 2010, her husband, Anastasio Hernandez Rojas, suffered a brutal and ultimately fatal beating at the hands of U.S. homeland security personnel at the San Ysidro Port of Entry on the southern edge of San Diego.The father of five was hogtied at a secure facility while at least eight agents and officers from the nation’s three border and immigration enforcement agencies punched and kicked him; a crowd of their colleagues circled around and watched. They knelt on his neck and body. Crying out for help, Hernandez was repeatedly tased while handcuffed. He suffered five broken ribs, internal organ hemorrhage, and bruising on his face and torso. He died of cardiac arrest and brain damage three days later. The coroner’s office ruled the case a homicide. Despite the federal agents erasing the video taken by eyewitnesses, the violent episode was caught on film and broadcast on national television. No agents or officers were punished, let alone charged for the killing. Puga has been protesting ever since.”

Source: Ryan Devereaux, “Anatomy of Impunity”: Former Dhs Supervisors Say Border Killing Cover-Up Was Part of a Pattern” (The Intercept, February 4, 2021) <https://theintercept.com/2021/02/04/border-patrol-killing-impunity-iachr/>.

Sector(s): San Diego

Agency(ies): CBP

Event Type(s): Conditions in Custody, Use of Force

Accountability Status: No steps taken

January 12, 2021

On January 12, 2021, Rafael Mercado Arechiga reported to the Freedom for Immigrants National Hotline that he was not receiving adequate mental health care or medication for pain. Mr. Mercado Arechiga reported that Officer Williams, a CCA officer, has been joining psychiatric appointments and recommending treatment and medication changes but admits that she is not a licensed psychiatrist or psychologist. Since Core Civic took over, Mr. Mercado Arechiga has only been given Tylenol instead of Gabapentin and has been switched to a few different PTSD medications that have not been working for him. Mr. Mercado Arechiga reported that his conditions have been getting worse since switching medications and that Tylenol is not enough for the amount of pain he feels. Mr. Mercado Arechiga also reported that he’s been in solitary for a year. He remains in a solitary cell for 22 hours a day and is not able to exercise or socialize. 

Source: Freedom for Immigrants, “CRCL Complaint Erik Mercado Arechiga” January 2021. <https://share.mayfirst.org/s/F2soW64cQDRr6fe?dir=undefined&path=%2F&openfile=8425396>

Sector(s): San Diego

Agency(ies): ICE

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

Accountability Status: No further action

January 11, 2021

On January 11, 2021, Erik Mercado Arechiga reported to the Freedom for Immigrants National Hotline that the detention facility is supposed to pay a detained worker to clean the showers in the unit but they are leaving that position unfilled. The showers are shared with individuals who have COVID-19 and those who do not. The showers are extremely filthy; people don’t even want to go in them to shower. Mr. Mercado Arechiga reported that he walked into the showers and couldn’t even stomach the filth, so he washed himself in a sink.

Source: Freedom for Immigrants, “CRCL Complaint Erik Mercado Arechiga”, January 2021. <https://share.mayfirst.org/s/F2soW64cQDRr6fe?dir=undefined&path=%2F&openfile=8425396>

Sector(s): San Diego

Agency(ies): ICE

Event Type(s): Conditions in Custody, Disregard to Public Health

Accountability Status: Complaint filed with CRCL, No further action

October 23, 2020

A U.S. Border Patrol agent shot and killed David Angel Villalobos-Baldovinos, 30, near the U.S.-Mexico border in San Ysidro, the San Diego Police Department confirmed.

SDPD Homicide Unit Lt. Andra Brown said the man, a Mexican national and father of 2, was involved in an altercation with the Border Patrol agent on federal property, in an area that is patrolled regularly and not open to the public, before the agent fired.

Authorities said the man had attempted to enter the U.S. illegally when he was confronted by a Border Patrol agent, which ensued in their altercation. The federal agent opened fire on the man, striking him once in the torso.

Medics later pronounced Villalobos dead. Brown said the agent involved was not seriously injured.

Source: NBC San Diego, “One Dead in Shooting Involving Border Patrol Near Las Americas Premium Outlets”, October 2020. <https://www.nbcsandiego.com/news/local/us-border-patrol-involved-in-shooting-in-san-ysidro/2430349/>; Southern Border Communities Coalition (SBCC), “Fatal Encounters with CBP Since 2010,” <https://www.southernborder.org/deaths_by_border_patrol>

Sector(s): San Diego

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Use of Force

Accountability Status: Lawsuit Filed

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 9, 2020

“Officers observed a man walking toward the gate, carrying a bag over his shoulder. The man was “supposedly” carrying narcotics, the statement said. It said he fled toward the U.S. side of the gate when he saw Mexican police officers.

The man dropped the bag before crossing the international line and, according to the statement, U.S. customs agents shot him after he crossed into the U.S.”

Source: Desert Sun, “US Border Agent, Security Guard shot man at Calexico Border Crossing”, July 2020. <https://www.desertsun.com/story/news/crime_courts/2020/07/09/gunfire-reported-near-calexico-united-states-mexico-border/5407043002/>

Sector(s): San Diego

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Use of Force

Accountability Status: No steps taken

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 15, 2020

An investigation by the ACLU Foundation of San Diego and Imperial Counties and ACLU Border Rights Center “identified a number of troubling cases in which CBP processing and/or detention led to family separations, including:”

  • “A woman whose heart condition worsened when, during processing, the Border Patrol separated her and her sister and transferred her sister to a different detention center without any advance notice or opportunity to say goodbye;
  • A mother and her two sons (one a minor) apprehended by the Border Patrol and detained in a nearby station; when the mother, who had seriously injured her knee during her journey to the United States, was taken to a hospital for surgery, she was separated from her boys, who were left detained separately at the Border Patrol station. After her return from the hospital, the Border Patrol released the mother and minor son into the United States together, but separated the older son from them and transferred him to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) detention; [12]
  • A grandmother who Border Patrol agents separated from her nine-year-old grandson after agents told her that his birth certificate was insufficient to establish biological familial ties. The grandmother was left anguished and fearful that her grandson would be given up to a U.S. family for adoption; and
  • A family of nine which CBP separated into three different family units—notwithstanding the fact that all nine family members initially entered the United States together—and subjected to the so-called “Migrant Protection Protocols.” The entire family was forcibly removed to Mexico, with each of the three “units” then receiving different master calendar hearing dates. This, in turn, resulted in separate nonrefoulement interviews. The stress of this arbitrary and inefficient separation of family members led the mother in the family to experience hyperventilating, vomiting, headache, and chest pain while awaiting her own nonrefoulement interview.”

“[12]: This family also included a father and two additional minor children, who had been separated from the mother and sons while crossing into the United States. Although the father saw one of his sons through a glass window while detained at the Border Patrol station and tried to explain to agents that his wife and other children were on site, the Border Patrol made no effort to reunite the family, and did not tell the mother that her partner was detained at the same station.”

Source: ACLU Foundation San Diego and Imperial Counties, ACLU Border Rights Center, “Separation of Families via CBP Detention and Processing, and the Agency’s Refusal to Implement a Detainee Locator System” (San Diego and El Paso, April 15, 2020) <https://cbpabusestest2.files.wordpress.com/2020/10/2020-04-15-dhs-oig-cmplt-3-final.pdf>.

Sector(s): San Diego

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Family Separation

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 23, 2020

On March 23, U.S. Border Patrol officers stopped Gilmer Barrios at a checkpoint on I-15 north between Fallbrook and Temecula. Barrios, who had a pending immigration case to gain legal status in the U.S., was on his way home to Temecula from San Diego County when he passed an immigration checkpoint residents say has been largely dormant for years, but has become active again during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Border agents quickly deported Barrios to Tijuana. Barrios had an open case in U.S. immigration court, no prior deportation order and is a Guatemalan citizen – so if he was going to be deported, it shouldn’t have been to Tijuana. After 21 days in Tijuana, with help of the Guatemalan consul general in Los Angeles, he was brought back to the United States.

Source: Voice of San Diego, “Border Patrol Activity in Rural North County Alarms Farmworkers, Advocates” May 27, 2020.<https://www.voiceofsandiego.org/topics/government/immigration-enforcement-efforts-in-rural-north-county-alarm-farmworkers-advocates/>.

Sector(s): San Diego

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Inappropriate Deportation

Accountability Status: No steps taken

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