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US Border Agents Have ‘Culture of Cruelty’

US Border Agents Have ‘Culture of Cruelty’


A new report from Tucson-based No More Deaths (NMD) finds that U.S. Border Patrol agents regularly engage in unsafe and unsanitary detention practices, physically abuse detainees and refuse medical attention to those who need it, among other violations of human rights. The group charges that these abuses amount to a “culture of cruelty” within the Border Patrol, now part of the largest federal law enforcement body in the United States.

Nearly 13,000 former detainees were interviewed for the report, named ‘A Culture of Cruelty: Abuse and Impunity in Short-Term U.S. Border Patrol Custody.’ One interview involved a 54-year-old man who had lived in Los Angeles for 35 years. Border Patrol detained him in October 2010, as he tried to return home after visiting his ailing mother in Mexico. He suffered a back injury when the Border Patrol vehicle transporting him flipped over. After hospital treatment, he was deported and then died in Nogales, Sonora after his medication ran out.

Once detained, migrants are not protected from sexual abuse as the Federal government is refusing to extend the protection of the Prison rape Elimination Act to immigration and asylum detainees.

They also face being transferred, often repeatedly, to remote detention centers by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), according to a Human Rights Watch report from June which analyzed 12 years of data.

Says Danielle Alvarado, a No More Deaths volunteer and co-author of the report:

“What we’ve found is clearly not the result of a few ‘bad apples’.  We continue to hear the same stories from thousands of people, released from different Border Patrol stations, year after year. They are alarmingly consistent.”

According to the interviews, individuals suffering severe dehydration are routinely deprived of water, people with life-threatening medical conditions are denied treatment, children and adults are beaten during apprehensions and in custody and many are crammed into cells and subjected to extreme temperatures, deprived of sleep and subject to humiliation and other forms of psychological abuse. Alvarado suggests that many of the practices documented in the report constitute torture under international law.

Pictured are life-saving resources such as water and cans of beans destroyed which No More Deaths volunteers find in the desert. Volunteers have witnessed, documented, and videotaped Border Patrol Agents destroying these invaluable resources.

Border Patrol agents often use a tactic of rushing at people on horseback or flying low in helicopters (“dusting”) to scatter migrants encountered in the desert, the report says.

This terrorizing tactic causes injuries to migrants attempting to get out of harm’s way. Those who aren’t apprehended are often left behind in the desert.

Conditions in Border Patrol custody have not changed much since 2008, the volunteers say, when NMD published its first report documenting abuses of detainees. Says Alvarado:

“Absolutely no one is taking responsibility for the patterns of abuse that persist. We have filed dozens of complaints and not one has produced any change. This is just one more way the Obama administration’s flawed approach to enforcement has undermined his credibility with immigrant communities. It is an affront to our collective sense of justice, fairness, and equality.”

The group is urging an immediate end to abusive practices, report and transparent, independent, and accountable oversight of the U.S. Border Patrol – including an overhaul of the complaint investigation process.

No More Deaths Petition to End Border Patrol Abuse


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10:18PM PDT on Nov 1, 2012

I agree no human should be abused BUT these are ILLEGALS i would trust there word about as far as i could throw a elephant (which would be nowere) I left california becuse i got tired of all the Illegals flooding in like a Dam Broke! Getting 1000 in welfare and driving escalades (yes i
worked at a grocery store Saw MANY illegals like that)

I support our Boarder patrol agents 100% over a law breaking illegal

10:03PM PDT on Nov 1, 2012

Thank you for article.

10:02PM PDT on Nov 1, 2012

Thank you for article.

3:38PM PST on Nov 6, 2011

And this should surprise anyone?! Everyone should hate those bastards! & Craig C.--your an idiot who needs to get a clue!

10:02AM PDT on Oct 25, 2011

BTW all of you that are about to explain that if I don't look like I belong here the border patrol has a duty......... I am so damn white the sheets on the line look dingy next to me....... I am allergic to having the sun shine on my skin..... white white ! and it SHAMES me because many people who look like me act like the rest of the world is 'less than'.

9:56AM PDT on Oct 25, 2011

I stopped traveling to Mexico many years ago..... I have a medical condition 'essential tremor' and have visited Mexico 3 times, first trip there were only two of us and I had been drinking, so I did not think too much of it, on the second trip I was in the company of a very large family that had 3 teenage boys with hair half way down their backs, all 3 boys bought leather rifle cases and the border people did not even give the boys or the rifle cases a second glance, did not even ask for them to be opened-------- but because I have a tremor I was pulled from the group and given a complete and through body cavity search........ I was told that if I did have a medical condition I was required to carry documentation about it....... so the third trip, I showed them my documentation from the doctor and they said that having documentation was just a bigger red flag and they did another body cavity search........ I really do not like the US Customs people....... they enjoy taking away your dignity tooo damn much. I have been married to men that did not get as up-close and personal as the border agents did.. AND no-one even offered me a drink.

10:17AM PDT on Oct 18, 2011


Hey you idiot the article is not talking about countries asking where your going to visit or how long youre staying for, its about Border Patrol abusing their tiny little power they have and getting excitment and pleasure off of beating and abusing men, women, and children. People just feel like they can step on and treat people like doormats beacuse they are immigrants... NO ONE HUMAN IS BETTER THAN ANOTHER... maybe better than Craig C though. ha

11:29PM PDT on Oct 7, 2011

You kind of have to be a cruel hearted person to do that kind of work. Politics aside, human beings are human beings and they deserve to be treated with a degree of respect. It's easy to take an aggressive political stance on illegal immigration if you aren't inconvenienced by having friendships and day to day relations with immigrants both legal and illegal. I have yet to meet an illegal immigrant who doesn't pay taxes, love America, and work their asses off to earn their life here.

12:39AM PDT on Oct 7, 2011

Marg you are right we will go back to calling out all communists sympathisers this is AMERICA not the USSR if you like how it is there then go. What occupy wall street are you going to?

12:31AM PDT on Oct 7, 2011

Let them stay on their side of the river and these bad things won't happen. What gives Mexico the right to ask you how long you are going to stay in their country and what cities you plan on visiting but we can't? Pack your bags and go home!!! As for the kids let them stay with someone who is a legal citizen if they are willing to except all duties of these children if not then go back with your parents.

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