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Various Authors 11:01 a.m., April 23
No More Deaths/No Mas Muertes, a group based out of Tucson, Arizona that provides humanitarian aid to migrants crossing the US/Mexico border illegally, has released a new report documenting the abuse of immigrants in the custody of the US Border Patrol.
“A Culture of Cruelty: Abuse and Impunity in Short-Term US Border Patrol Custody,” follows up on the group’s “Crossing the Line: Human Rights Abuses of Migrants in Short-Term Custody,” which was released in 2008. Over three years, No More Deaths interviewed approximately 13,000 migrants who had been detained by Border Patrol officers, claiming to document 30,000 instances of abuse. Common complaints include physical abuse, denial of medical treatment for wounds suffered during the border crossing attempt or at the hands of officers, and denial of sufficient food and water.
Specifically, 2,981 people claimed they were given no food and 11,384 said they received only items such as cracker packets or juice boxes. 80% of those in custody for more than two days did not receive a full meal during that time. 863 migrants claimed they were not allowed any access to water, even though many apprehended were suffering from dehydration.
“They treated me like a dog...They asked if [I] wanted water, but when [I] responded ‘yes,’ they wouldn’t give [me] any,” a 16 year-old Guatemalan boy told interviewers.
About 10% of detainees reported physical abuse at some point. The report also documents 433 cases where detainees required medical treatment, with only 59 being allowed access to a doctor or medicine before deportation. Several of those taken into custody reported having their medications taken away from them and not returned.
Other items were frequently not returned to migrants upon their release. Items commonly reported as taken included cash, shoes, and identification documents.
Further complaints included intentional destruction of water jugs placed in the Sonora Desert by the No More Deaths group and repatriation (deportation) occurring after dark, which violates an agreement between the Mexican Consulate and US Customs and Border Protection. This practice allegedly endangers migrants, who are frequently in close proximity to criminal activity when they’re dropped off. 869 family members that were captured together ended up being deported at different times and in different locations, including 41 teens and 17 young children who were separated from parents.
The complete report is available for download here.