Three powerful groups have joined forces to file complaints against perceived abuses by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) across the country. Immigration groups, private attorneys and a law school clinic have combined ten cases alleging unlawful CBP conduct in several states. These cases may be representative of more misconduct against immigrants and citizens in these states.
Why CBP is in trouble
“Border Patrol agents routinely exceed their statutory mandate by conducting enforcement activities outside border regions, making racially motivated arrests, employing derogatory and coercive interrogation tactics, and imprisoning arrestees under inhumane conditions. The cases include claims for unlawful search and seizure, false imprisonment, intentional infliction of emotional distress, assault, and battery.” One reported case told of CBP agents at the Texas-Mexico border detaining a lady and keeping her in a freezing cell with inadequate food, toiletries and bathing facilities. Although she only spoke Spanish, the agents made her sign documents she did not understand which resulted in an expedited removal.
In another case in Ohio, CBP agents subjected a 63-year-old woman with no criminal history to hours of interrogation. Once she was transferred to an immigration detention facility, she suffered an acute stroke. As a result of the trauma, she suffers from chronic pain, numbness and partial paralysis on her left side. Several more victims have come forward and shared their experiences with CBP, but many others will not have the opportunity to tell what happened to them.
Trina Realmunto, a staff attorney with the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild noted, “While these cases shed light on CBP misconduct, there are hundreds more such incidents that go unreported.” These cases exemplify the culture within the CBP community. Melissa Crow, director of American Immigration Council’s Legal Action Center says, “The agency must take immediate steps to promote more effective oversight and accountability within its ranks.”
What the Future may hold for CBP
These reports worry many because they come at a time when Congress is attempting to “enhance” border security and increase numbers of Border Patrol Agents. States that do not have an open door policy for immigrants may be subjecting immigrants to even more abuses. Matt Adams, legal director for the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project says, “While both the bipartisan Senate framework and the President’s proposal acknowledge concerns about racial profiling and other abuses, specific guidelines and limits must be implemented with any immigration reform.”
If you have questions regarding the changing immigration laws or if you have been abused by Customs & Border Patrol, contact us at 314-961-8200 or visit our contact page.