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Allegations of CBP Abuse Continue

Posted by Matthew Green | Aug 05, 2014 | 0 Comments

When a local, state, or even federal agency has complaints brought against it, there should be investigations or at least questions asked in order to make sure these concerns are taken care of in an appropriate and efficient manner. However, when it comes to CBP (Customs and Border Protection), there seems to be a double standard.

As reported by, complaints of abuse are still being brought to CBP's attention although little seems to being getting done. “Data obtained by the American Immigration Council shine a light on the lack of accountability and transparency which afflicts the U.S. Border Patrol and its parent agency, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).”

Through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), the Immigration Council was able to obtain data that describes “809 complaints of alleged abuse lodged against Border Patrol agents between January 2009 and January 2012.” The complaints vary and include alleged incidents of physical, verbal, and sexual abuse. The data shows that, when a formal decision was issued, 97% of the time it ended up being labeled “No Action Taken.”

Not only does action rarely get taken, but the investigation into individual complaints can sometimes take a very long time. Typically, the agency took “122 days to arrive at a decision when one was made.” In addition, approximately 40% of the complaints were labeled “pending investigation,” when the Immigration Council received the CBP data.

According to the information obtained by the Immigration Council, “physical abuse” was the number one reason for filing a complaint. Physical abuse accounted for an estimated 40% of all complaints. The next most prevalent reason for filing a complaint was “excessive use of force” at 38%.

Upon further examination, the information shows that one out of every three complaints that were filed against Border Patrol agents in the Tucson area. After the Tucson sector, the next area with the highest number of complaints was the Rio Grande Valley. After considering the totality of the complaints, it shows that there is a “need for a stronger system of incentives (both positive and negative) for Border Patrol agents to abide by the law, respect legal rights, and refrain from abusive conduct.” There is no way this can be achieved unless there is a swift and comprehensive review of current CBP processes.

In addition to policies related to incentives, it would most likely be beneficial if there was an analysis of how the CBP hired and trained its staff. In the early 1990s, there were new guidelines created around the adoption of a strategy known as “prevention through deterrence.” Along with this new strategy came a “surge of resources and personnel along the southwest border.” A report from the Congressional Research Service said that because there has been so many agents hired in a short amount a time, there has been a “decline in the level of experience of agents in the field.” In general, this means that more agents are put in the field who are inexperienced and unable to work well in tense situations.

About the Author

Matthew Green

Managing Partner. Green | Evans-Schroeder (formerly Law Offices of Matthew H. Green) focuses on the aggressive defense of immigrants. A native of Arizona, Mr. Green understands the difficulties that immigrants and families of immigrants face when a loved one is charged with a crime. He knows how frightening it can be for some...


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