The Human Rights Watch (HRW) organization denounced that Between 2016 and 2021, more than 160 cases of misconduct and abuse of asylum seekers were reported attributed to officials of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), mostly destined for the borders.
On September 24, HRW obtained internal reports from DHS, the agency in charge of the immigration system and border protection, through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), according to a report released today. .
The cases particularly point to Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Border Patrol officials, and correspond to internal reports on complaints received by asylum officers from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). in English).
According to HRW, lThe accusations correspond to “assault, sexual abuse, violations of due process, denial of medical care, harsh detention conditions and dehumanizing treatment at the border.”.
Examples collected by HRW include that in 2017, a Border Patrol agent struck a woman in the lower pelvis with his knee, leaving her with bruises and pain for several days.
The affected woman reported what happened to an official who was examining her request for asylum.
Also that year and in a separate incident, HRW added, a CBP official forced a girl to undress and then inappropriately touched her.
Another case, in 2018, involved an official from that same agency who beat an asylum seeker with such force that he was knocked unconscious and suffered brain swelling.
HRW said it had delivered to DHS on September 28 summaries of 11 cases of abuse included in the reports it received requesting information “on what investigations or disciplinary actions, if any, occurred as a result of the complaints.” It also delivered additional details on October 12.
At the time the document was published, HRW added, “DHS had not responded to any of the requests.”
But in a statement sent to The New York Times on the subject, DHS spokeswoman Marsha Espinosa indicated that the department “does not tolerate any form of abuse or misconduct.”
The spokesperson indicated that under the leadership of the Secretary of National Security, Alejandro Mayorkas, that unit is conducting internal reviews “to identify and end intolerable prejudices and reform its policies and training” and on the use of force.
For its part, HRW recommended that DHS investigate the documented allegations of misconduct and abuse and review the disciplinary, grievance and oversight mechanisms.
He also called on the government of US President Joe Biden to use “all the resources” of the federal government to ensure accountability in border operations, and even assign a separate agency, such as the Department of Justice, to investigate the violations of immigrant rights on the border.