A new website has recently been launched that will report and catalog current cases and abuses that have been brought against the U.S. CBP (Customs and Border Patrol). As reported by the American Immigration Council, the new website (HoldCBPAccountable.org), was created through various immigration advocacy groups that hope to bring attention to this growing problem.
Specifically, the American Immigration Council, the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild, the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, and the ACLU of San Diego and Imperial Counties have come together to expose the CBP and its abuses of discretion. These concerns include “unlawful searches and seizures, removals based on coercion and misinformation, the use of excessive force, and other abuses committed by Border Patrol agents and CBP officers.”
According to the new site, CBP is billed as the federal government's largest law-enforcement agency and its main responsibility is the security of the border as well as ensuring legitimate trade and travel. The site goes on to note that CBP officers “routinely overstep the boundaries of their authority by conducting enforcement activities outside border regions, making racially motivated arrests, employing derogatory and coercive interrogations tactics, and imprisoning arrestees under inhumane conditions” along both the the northern and southern borders of the United States.
The website outlines one case involving Laura Mireles. She is a U.S. citizen who works on the U.S. side of an international bridge in Brownsville, Texas. The incident involving Mireles occurred one day after she crossed the border into Mexico to make a purchase. The length of her visit was all of 15 minutes. When she attempted to return to the U.S., she was stopped by a CBP officer and her vehicle was searched. Mireles asked the officer why her handbag was being searched and the officer became violent. He grabbed her and threw her body to the ground. Her clothes ripped and she suffered a laceration on her knee and multiple cuts on her elbows. She was released from custody with no charges, but only after she was handcuffed so tightly that the fire department had to be called in order to cut the handcuffs from her wrists.
The website contains lawsuits that have been filed in different states throughout the country. Currently, there are suits filed against CBP in California, Florida, Indiana, New York, Ohio, and Washington State. Visitors to the site can also review documents retrieved through the Freedom of Information Act, as they relate to CBP misconduct.
While the site does a good job of making the public aware of this kind of information, it is just a small sample of wrongdoings taken on the part of the CBP. In fact, the ACLU has reported that a minimum of 28 people have died during events with CBP agents along the U.S. and Mexico border. At this point CBP's use of force policy is now in review. According to the article by the American Immigration Council, this is now the time to report any abuse of authority by CBP.