| News |

Immigrant Abuses at Hands of Border Patrol Agents Documented by Human-Rights Organization

Keep New Times Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Phoenix and help keep the future of New Times free.

No More Deaths, a Tucson-based human-rights advocacy group, continues its push to end the abusive treatment immigrants suffer while in U.S. Border Patrol Custody.

The group shares the stories of abuse, neglect, and humiliation of 13,000 people detained by the Border Patrol in a report released today -- "A Culture of Cruelty: Abuse and Impunity in Short-Term U.S. Border Patrol Custody."

"What we've found is clearly not the result of a few 'bad apples,'" says Danielle Alvarado, a No More Deaths volunteer and co-author of the report. "We continue to hear the same stories from thousands of people, released from different Border Patrol stations, year after year. They are alarmingly consistent."

U.S. Border Patrol agents regularly violate the human rights of their detainees by engaging in unsafe and unsanitary detention practices, physically abusing detainees, and refusing medical attention to those who need it, group leaders proclaim.

A Border Patrol spokesman was not immediately available for comment.

Interviews, conducted by volunteers for No More Deaths and other human rights organizations, highlight that individuals suffering severe dehydration are routinely deprived of water; people with life-threatening medical conditions are denied treatment; children and adults are beaten during apprehensions and in custody, many are crammed into cells and subjected to extreme temperatures, deprived of sleep and subject to humiliation and other forms of psychological abuse.

New Times documented many of those abuses in Culture of Cruelty, a feature published December 16, 2010 that included the story of Anastasio Hernandez Rojas, a California man who died in the hands of federal immigration agents.

From the story:

    Anastasio Hernandez Rojas screamed in agony as U.S. border agents rained blows on him and delivered 50,000 volts of electricity to his body over and over.

    "No! No! Ayuda!" the 42-year-old Mexican wailed, pleading for help in Spanish. "Ayudenme [help me]!"

    It was late in the evening of May 28, and his cries could be heard throughout the San Ysidro border-crossing area dividing San Diego and Tijuana.

    Witnesses said that Hernandez Rojas was facedown on the ground, his arms handcuffed behind his back. Three agents were piled on top of him, one driving his knee into Hernandez Rojas' back, another pushing his knee into the deportee's neck. Other federal agents were kicking the father of five on each side of his body.

That story was, in part, based on the first report released by No More Deaths in 2008: "Crossing the Line -- Human Rights Abuses of Migrants in Short-Term Custody on the Arizona-Sonora Border."

That report, too, is full of many of the same examples of abuse.

"Absolutely no one is taking responsibility for the patterns of abuse that persist," Alvarado says in a statement released with the report. "We have filed dozens of complaints and not one has produced any change. This is just one more way the Obama administration's flawed approach to enforcement has undermined his credibility with immigrant communities. It is an affront to our collective sense of justice, fairness, and equality."

Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Phoenix.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Phoenix.