Archive for the ‘U.S. Customs & Border Protection’ Category
Posted by Christopher Coen on August 20, 2016
People crowded in “ice boxes”
Unauthorized immigrants apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border can spend hours or days in crowded holding facilities without beds, which many migrants call “hieleras” or “ice boxes” because of the temperature. These are small concrete rooms with concrete benches. Customs and Border Protection facilities are meant to hold people for short periods before they are transferred elsewhere, usually to Immigration and Customs Enforcement or, in the case of unaccompanied minors, to the Office of Refugee Resettlement. The images are similar to alarming photos of children and adults in cramped facilities after being apprehended along the U.S.-Mexico border in 2014, at the height of a surge in unaccompanied minors and families coming to the country without authorization. The number of border apprehensions went down in the 2015 fiscal year, but increased in the 2016 fiscal year ― although they are still lower than 2014. An article at the Huffington Post has the details:
Unauthorized immigrants apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border can spend hours or days in crowded holding facilities without beds, where they huddle for warmth and at times there isn’t enough room for everyone to lie down.
Those conditions are revealed in photos released Thursday as part of a lawsuit against Customs and Border Protection, brought by multiple stakeholders.
The suit alleges that the agency maintains unconstitutionally poor conditions at some of its facilities, which are meant for short-term detention but at times hold people for multiple days. The images from surveillance footage were turned over to lawyers and have now been made public by a judge.
They show that adults and children endure “deplorable conditions” in the holding rooms, which many migrants call “hieleras” or “ice boxes” because of the temperature, said attorney Nora Preciado of the National Immigration Law Center, one of the groups that brought the lawsuit…
…a forensic sanitarian…wrote that in his opinion “the unclean, unhygienic, and unduly cold conditions in which people are held at these stations serves no legitimate purpose and creates an unjustifiable risk of harm to detainees”…
…[the] deputy director of research at American Immigration Council…said… “They are typically small concrete rooms with concrete benches and no beds… Read more here
Posted in abuse, asylees, ICE, ORR, U.S. Customs & Border Protection | Tagged: Customs and Border Protection.migrants, hieleras, ice boxes, immigrants, refugees, resettlement | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Christopher Coen on June 14, 2016
The National Border Patrol Council, a union representing some 17,000 Border Patrol agents and support personnel, has criticized a new award designed to recognize Customs and Border Protection personnel who deescalate an encounter that might otherwise have led to deadly force. An article at the ACLU website has the details:
Over the past decade, Customs and Border Protection has had an acute excessive use of force problem, without any accountability to date. Last month, however, the agency did something worthy of praise. It announced a new award designed to recognize CBP personnel, including Border Patrol agents, who deescalate an encounter that might otherwise have led to deadly force: the “Use of Deadly Force Encounter Averted Award.”
In response, the National Border Patrol Council, a union representing some 17,000 Border Patrol agents and support personnel, immediately criticized the award. Union leaders argued it reflects a “type of thinking [that] will get Border Patrol agents killed. If that happens we will hold the creators of this award accountable. This is despicable.”
You read that right, but what’s not “despicable” to the union is any one of the more than 50 deaths caused by CBP since 2010 — not, for example, a Border Patrol agent shooting an unarmed Mexican teenager in the back 10 times across the border fence. The Border Patrol union leadership objects instead to commending agents who demonstrate, under the award’s terms:
“clear situational awareness and courage while disarming a suspect using contact controls [‘physical measures taken when verbal commands and officer presence are not effective’] and verbal commands before the situation escalated to the use of deadly force. The act must demonstrate courage in the face of an armed suspect and result in no injury in accordance with [CBP]’s use of force policy”
…Read more here
Posted in ACLU, U.S. Customs & Border Protection | Tagged: ACLU, Border Patrol, brutality, Customs and Border Protection, deadly force, human rights, immigration, refugees, resettlement, union | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Christopher Coen on January 16, 2016
A federal judge in Arizona has ruled that a lawsuit may go forward alleging that the US Border Patrol has kept Central American migrants in filthy, inhumane conditions. Conditions included migrants sleeping in crowded, dirty and freezing cells, deprived of sleep and denied basic hygiene items such as showers, soap and sanitary napkins for women. Migrants were allegedly held almost incommunicado, without access to telephones or legal counsel. An article in The Washington Post has the story:
Lawyers for undocumented Central American immigrants who have flocked to the United States since 2014 have won an early round in their legal battle to prove that the migrants were held in filthy, inhumane conditions at U.S. Border Patrol stations.
A federal judge in Arizona this week allowed a lawsuit over the alleged mistreatment to go forward and granted the case class-action status, which allows the lawyers to interview far more migrants and gather more evidence about their treatment. The Obama administration had sought to dismiss the case.
The lawsuit says immigrants at border patrol facilities near Tucson were subjected to harsh conditions in the days after they crossed the southwest border, sleeping in crowded, dirty and freezing cells, deprived of sleep and denied basic hygiene items such as showers, soap and sanitary napkins for women. The complaint — filed in June on behalf of three migrants by four immigrant advocacy groups and a law firm in U.S. District Court in the District of Arizona — also says the migrants were held virtually incommunicado, without access to telephones or legal counsel. It alleges that the mistreatment violated the U.S. Constitution and Department of Homeland Security policies… Read more here
Posted in abuse, U.S. Customs & Border Protection | Tagged: Border Patrol, central american, court, human rights, immigration, lawsuit, migrants, refugees | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Christopher Coen on December 17, 2015
It turns out that the Syrian refugees who arrived in taxis at the Mexican border last month, and which right-wing political candidates and media outlets described as infiltrators, are a Christian Syrian family fleeing violence in Syria. The family presented themselves at the US-Mexican border to US Customs and Border Protection, which right-wing Breitbart News reported as being “caught”. Donald trump speculated that the family were members of the Islamic State. Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson said that the husband and wife and two sons – aged two and five – could be the embodiment of America’s “worst nightmare”. They now find themselves indefinitely detained in Texas in separate detention centers, with no explanation given, and despite a July ruling by a federal judge in California who ordered that mothers with children should be released quickly from detention facilities. Texas is now considering licensing the facilities as “childcare centers”. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) claims the family has failed to establish they are “not a danger to the community or US security”. An article in The Guardian has more:
Throughout the seven months it took Samer and his family to make their way from Syria to the United States, he told himself that the risk and cost would be worth it they could swap their war-ravaged homeland for what he believed was a “land of opportunity, hope and peace”.
But the family’s arrival in the US has proved more stressful than the journey: days after they reached Texas they found themselves the unwitting subject of a national debate over potential terrorist infiltration.
Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson said that Samer, his wife and two sons – aged two and five – could be the embodiment of America’s “worst nightmare”. Donald Trump speculated that the family, who are Christian, could be members of Islamic State… Read more here
Posted in asylees, Christian, ICE, right-wing, Syrian, U.S. Customs & Border Protection | Tagged: Christian, immigration, refugees, resettlement, syrian | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Christopher Coen on March 5, 2015
Refugee resettlement contractors World Relief and the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops (USCCB) are demanding religious exemption for the requirement that federally funded organizations that house unaccompanied migrant children provide victims of sexual abuse with “unimpeded access to emergency medical treatment, crisis intervention services, emergency contraception, and sexually transmitted infections prophylaxis, in accordance with professionally accepted standards of care, where appropriate under medical or mental health professional standards.” In an obvious abuse of religious exemption standards they claim that a mere referral to emergency contraception or related would offend their personal religious beliefs, nor should they have to notify federal agency personnel who could instead do the referral. Essentially they want to stand in the way of unaccompanied immigrant girls and prevent them from getting the pregnancy services they chose. This, while taking public funds for a public program to care for these girls. The USCCB had also wanted a federal grant to provide services to victims of human trafficking, while similarly denying the women and girls access to a full range of legally permissible gynecological and obstetric care. Thankfully the group did not get the grant. The details of this most recent religious exemption abuse are found in an article at Think Progress:
Estimates suggest that anywhere between 60 and 80 percent of migrant women and girls are raped on their journey as they travel across the southern United States border. But many of the organizations that provide medical care to these migrants are refusing to provide emergency contraception or make pregnancy-related referrals to girls who have been raped. What’s more, the religious organizations that operate these groups are opposing a move by the Obama administration to address epidemic rape of young unaccompanied migrants by requiring contraceptive care. During last year’s border surge, a total of 68,541 unaccompanied children streamed through the southern Texas border from Latin America. Almost half of the children apprehended by border patrol agents were girls. Rape and sexual assault are “major motivating factors” for why girls flee their home countries of El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala, a Women’s Refugee Commission report found last October. The report stated that children on the run who traveled with smuggling guides known as coyotes reported sexual abuse, including one child who “told of how women and girls were kept in a separate room and could be heard screaming while being raped.” And even once in the United States, some migrants alleged that sexual assault (especially among LGBT detainees) took place in detention, sometimes by guards. Those children may not receive adequate care after border patrol agents pass them onto group shelter homes, the majority of which are operated by faith-based organizations such as the Baptist Child and Family Services (BCFS), which received $190 million in a single grant last year. But it was the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), which received roughly $22.1 million, that sent a letter last week objecting to a Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA)regulation by the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) that would require federally funded organizations that house unaccompanied migrant children to provide victims of sexual abuse with “unimpeded access to emergency medical treatment, crisis intervention services, emergency contraception, and sexually transmitted infections prophylaxis, in accordance with professionally accepted standards of care, where appropriate under medical or mental health professional standards.” The rule includes a clause that would allow faith-based organizations to offer external pregnancy-related referrals for unaccompanied children… Read more here
Posted in Catholic, children, churches, faith-based, Guatemalan, Honduran, ORR, safety, Salvadoran, teenagers, teens, U.S. Customs & Border Protection, unaccompanied minors, USCCB, women, World Relief, young adults | Tagged: Baptist Child and Family Services, BCFS, minors, ORR, PREA, religious exemption, southern border, unaccompanied, us catholic conference of bishops, USCCB, World Relief | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Christopher Coen on November 7, 2014
A social worker who couldn’t take any more explains in a new article the conditions in the Border Patrol detention centers where the wave of Central American youth known as “the surge” are kept before being sent on to ORR shelters. Conditions include bright lights, constant blasting AC, little food and rare exercise. Youth are processed in without showers or clean clothes and remain for long periods in the dank and dirty clothes they trekked hundreds of miles in. An article in the Washington Post by a social worker describes these detention centers:
…About 70,000 immigrant kids will show up alone at the U.S. border this year. According to Mother Jones, that’s a 59 percent increase from 2013, a 142 percent jump from 2011.
These children are fleeing instability, unrest and danger in their home countries (according to one study, 58 percent of the young people “had suffered, been threatened, or feared serious harm”). As Wendy Young, executive director of Kids in Need of Defense (KIND), told Mother Jones:
“This is becoming less like an immigration issue and much more like a refugee issue. … Because this really is a forced migration. This is not kids choosing voluntarily to leave…”
[in detention centers in Texas] Kids were crammed into rooms under bright lights and were forced to wait.
Kids…called the detention center “la hielera,” or “the icebox,” because of the blasting air conditioning in the arctic-chilled cells. Some children were left there for weeks; they described the smell of their own festering feet and urine that filled the spaces.
In Texas, an officer had told [one boy] to put his face against the cold wall and to empty his pockets. Sometimes kids bring money with them. He pocketed the kid’s $10.
They were processed into jail with the dank clothes they traveled in, were not always showered, were provided with little food and little nutrition, and not always permitted physical exercise… Read more here
Posted in asylees, children, Guatemalan, Honduran, ORR, Salvadoran, U.S. Customs & Border Protection, unaccompanied minors | Tagged: alien, asylees, Border Patrol, central american, detention, immigration, ORR, refugee, resettlement, unaccompanied, youth | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Christopher Coen on June 15, 2014
Tens of thousands of children have crossed the border illegally since 2011 and now some of them are coming forward with stories of abuse at the hands of U.S. Border Patrol agents. One boy claims an agent punched him in the stomach. We dealt with this agency back in 2010 when agents detained a Somali refugee in North Dakota for failing to keep an I-20 identification card on his person. The agency played games in trying to reject our Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. In 2011 a whistle-blower at the agency reported that staff get paid overtime while not working. An article at The Wire explains the recent abuse allegations:
Some of the tens of thousands of children who have crossed the border since 2011 claim that they’ve been physically and verbally abused by border patrol agents while in their custody. Documents obtained by BuzzFeed via the Freedom of Information Act didn’t specify whether the claims were ever substantiated or investigated by the Border Patrol, but government officials filed two dozen reports about such allegations.
These “Significant Incident Reports” were made by staff at shelters connected to the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement between March of 2011 and 2013. The office receives the children within three days of their apprehension. One girl from Guatemala claims her leg was run over by border patrol vehicle while she was trying to escape, though officials didn’t believe her. Another boy said an agent punched him in the stomach.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection has not commented on the abuse allegations, but on Monday afternoon the organization replaced its head of internal affairs, James F. Tomsheck, “amid concerns about use-of-force investigations of Border Patrol agents,” according to The Washington Post… Read more here
Posted in abuse, children, U.S. Customs & Border Protection | Tagged: abuse, Border Patrol, Border Protection, children, Freedom of Information Act, immigration, immigration refugees, investigation, James F. Tomsheck, resettlement | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Christopher Coen on July 29, 2011
In this week of federal debt trauma in walks an employee of U.S. Customs and Border Protection to tell us how federal employees at his agency get overtime pay in exchange for not working. But of course all of us who care about refugees and immigrants, for the human beings they are, already know this about government agency workers, as well as their friends in private industry at the resettlement agencies. Many of them do whatever they want to do, and they suffer no consequences whatsoever. That is why we so desperately need passage of the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act. Read more in Joe Davidson’s Washington Post column.
During a period when some in Congress and their related policy wonks think federal employees are overpaid, here comes Christian Sanchez, a Border Patrol agent who says he was punished for refusing overtime pay.
His bosses suggested that he get psychological help.
Instead, Sanchez has become a whistleblower, and on Friday he plans to tell gathering on Capitol Hill that he was retaliated against because he would not take overtime for doing no work.
Sanchez is an example of what the Government Accountability Project, a whistleblower advocacy organization, calls “pocketbook whistleblowers.” They allegedly have suffered retaliation for actions that could save the government money.
This emphasis on guarding Uncle Sam’s pocketbook allows whistleblower advocates to broaden the appeal of legislation designed to expand legal protections for employees who disclose government waste, fraud and abuse. Supporting whistleblowers becomes more than helping individual employees who have been mistreated by the system — it becomes into an act of fiscal responsibility.
That approach could increase chances for the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act. It’s come close to passage during the many years it has lingered in Congress, but proponents have not been able to push it across the finish line.
In a letter last month to President Obama and Congress, a group of federal whistleblowers urged them to approve the legislation, telling them that “you have allowed potentially billions of tax dollars to be wasted because all federal workers know they cannot speak up without engaging in professional suicide.”
Sanchez is speaking up, and he has paid a price.
There is little work to do at the Port Angeles, Wash., station, where he is assigned, he said. He calls it a “black hole” where agents have “no purpose, no mission.”
“The worst fraud on taxpayers is that we are getting paid overtime not to work,” Sanchez said in a prepared statement. When he first started working at the station, “I noticed it was common practice for everyone to get paid overtime not to work… Read more here
Our own experience with Customs and Border Protection also demonstrated how completely corrupt and debased that federal agency is. Before either the Left or the Right try to spin this case for their own interests, I’d like to remind everyone that for decades both the Democrats and the Republicans have repeatedly contributed to corruption by installing their own cronies in the federal agencies and courts, while turning a blind eye to the damage these people have done to the people and the nation.
I nominate Christian Sanchez as hero of the month. It helps to restore my faith in humanity when I see that our country still has people like this among our ranks.
Posted in Congress, funding, Government Accountability Project, immigration services, Obama administration, openess and transparency in government, police, revolving door, U.S. Customs & Border Protection, Washington | Tagged: Border Patrol, Christian Sanchez, Congress, Customs and Border Protection, Democrats, federal government, Government Accountability Project, immigrants, Port Angeles, refugees, Republicans, Washington, whistleblower, Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act | 1 Comment »