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

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."

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Monica Alonzo
Contact: Monica Alonzo