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Patrullas fronterizas en la zona de Tijuana, México. Foto Eduardo Jaramillo
Border patrols in the area of Tijuana, Mexico. Photo: Eduardo Jaramillo

Border Patrol mistreat immigrants by default

A report released today by the Kino Border Initivative indicates that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is not making necessary follow-up on complaints…

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According to the report, when a refugee or asylum seeker files a complaint with the Department of Homeland Security, no follow-up procedure or responses are issued.

The Office of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) should follow the process, determining the causes and veracity of complaints and allegations of abuse against undocumented immigrants.

The report was made jointly with the Jesuits in Canada and the United States, through the Kino Border Initiative (KBI), a binational organization dedicated to immigrants in Nogales, Arizona and Sonora, Mexico, according to EFE.

The agency filed 49 complaints from October 2015 to March 2017, representing immigrants who have reported, "abuses by border agents."

Of the 49 cases, only 13 were investigated, and the remaining 36 received only an acknowledgment.

"Research is an effective monitoring process, it is necessary both to protect the human dignity of individuals crossing the border and to enhance the training and professionalism of agents and officers," said KBI Executive Director Sean Carroll.

Like any denunciation process, the differences between the testimonies of both sides tend to differ. That is why a record must be fully fulfilled, but in the case of the CBP, the conversation is transcribed and archived; according to KBI, there is no audio record that can corroborate the testimony.

As reported by Tucson News Now, the border patrol could fill out the report as if the individual sought work but not shelter, nullifying the possibility of asylum.

"When the individual is talking to us, they say look at this video where my cousin was killed for not joining the cartels and that was going to happen to me," said Joanna Williams, a Georgetown University graduate who has worked for KPI for two years.

The report issued by the agency is named "Intake Without Oversight: Firsthand Experiences with Custom and Border Protection Complaints Process", and highlights cases such as a woman with eight months of pregnancy and an injured ankle, who was arrested by agents of the Border Patrol when trying to cross through the desert, and that did not receive any medical attention in spite of her situation.

According to EFE, "during her detention she received food only every six hours, they denied her the right to speak with representatives of the Mexican consulate and was deported three days after her arrest."

KPI filed a complaint on behalf of Ignacia on December 7, 2015 and received a notification a month later, where the allegations were denied, alleging that the detention officer said he had not "noticed" the immigrant's pregnancy.

In circumstances such as this, KPI says that the report is not intended to incriminate DHS but to become a tool to improve the system.

"We do not perceive them as an antagonistic relationship," Williams said, "What we want is for the Department of Homeland Security to do a better job and respect the rights and dignity of the people."

Williams also said that much of the failing in the process is due to a lack of funds and staff from the independent agencies investigating complaints.

Meanwhile, the government has preferred to request a $ 1 billion budget to build a wall, before funding humanitarian projects that could help tackle the root problem.

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