Of the migrants arriving at the Kino Border Initiative (KBI) in 2021 who had been deported, nearly half reported some form of abuse by a U.S. official. Dozens of asylum seekers shared with KBI staff that they approached the port of entry and were turned away without having their asylum claims heard. Migrants have also reported verbal abuse, excessive force, and sexual assault by Border Patrol. Of the 1,667 reported abuses by U.S. authorities in 2021, 94% were committed by Border Patrol Agents. Even an internal report released by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in 2020 acknowledged that Border Patrol agents rarely face consequences for misconduct.
Last summer, a Border Patrol agent shot Marisol García Alcántara in the head from behind as she rode in a vehicle in Nogales, Arizona. Marisol had gone to the US to visit her mother and work to support her three daughters. The gunshot left Marisol with bullet fragments in her brain, as well as memory loss, dizzy spells and headaches. Marisol was never asked to give a declaration before she was deported to Mexico.
Despite these reports of abuse, year after year Congress has increased the budget for Customs and Border Protection and has hired more and more Border Patrol agents without putting in place accountability measures and external oversight to ensure that agents follow internal policy and treat people migrating as well as local community members with respect.
According to the American Immigration Council, “the number of U.S. Border Patrol agents nearly doubled from Fiscal Year (FY) 2003 to FY 2019.” These increases, rather than making the US more secure, have instead fostered fear and mistrust in local communities along the border. Congress has continued to increase spending for enforcement, surveillance and for hiring more Border Patrol agents, despite the fact that the federal government has already met the border security benchmarks laid down in earlier Senate immigration reform bills.
The fiscal year for the federal budget ends on September 30th, so there is still time to ask your Members of Congress to prioritize funding to welcome families seeking protection rather than emboldening abuse at our southern border.
Call both of your Senators (use the number 202-224-XXXX, and find the last 4 digits HERE), and your House Representative (phone list HERE) and ask them to invest in a sustainable model of humanitarian reception that welcomes families seeking protection, rather than inflating Border Patrol’s budget, given these patterns of abuse.
Consider using this script:
Hi, my name is X, and I am (congregation or organization affiliation, i.e. a member of St. Francis Xavier parish). As (a community leader, person of faith, a descendent of migrants), I want my tax dollars to go toward welcoming families seeking protection at our southern border, not subjecting parents and children to harm or abuse. This matters to me because (include personal connection to migration i.e., I am a parent and I would want my kids to have a safe place to grow up…I know someone who has migrated and they are now an integral part of our community…)
I would like Senator X to push for these priorities in the current federal budget process – to invest in a sustainable model of humanitarian reception that does not rely on detention and treats people seeking refuge in this country as people with dignity, not immigration enforcement priorities.
I am also concerned about Border Patrol’s history of abuse without external accountability. So I would urge Senator X not to support any increases for CBP funding until comprehensive measures have been taken to address Border Patrol abuse and impunity.
I look forward to hearing how Senator X plans to address these concerns. Thank you for your time.