STUDY: 1 in 3 Migrants Deported at the Mexican Border Experience Abuse

By Kenrya Rankin Sep 22, 2015

A new report found that migrants who are deported to Mexico are being denied their basic human and civil rights.

Released by Kino Border Initiative, an organization that advocates for humane migration between the United States and Mexico, “Our Values on the Line: Migrant Abuse and Family Separation at the Border” explores the way Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Border Patrol interact with Mexican migrants who are arrested, detained and deported. The data was collected between July 2014 and March 2015, via surveys of migrants who were deported to Nogales, Mexico.

One in three deported migrants who took the survey reported some type of abuse or mistreatment by Border Patrol agents or while in Department of Homeland Security (DHS) custody. Broken down by gender, 35 percent of women experienced abuse, versus 31.8 percent of men. For women, verbal abuse was the most common (20.3 percent), while men most frequently cited having their belongings taken and not returned (16.4 percent). Other reported issues included poor detention conditions (14.5 percent for men and women), physical abuse (12 percent), lack of food in detention (10.3 percent) and racial discrimination (8.4 percent). Despite the rampant mistreatment, the report found that just 7.7 percent of the survey respondents filed a complaint with U.S. immigration authorities, with many saying they didn’t think it would matter and that they feared it would lead to retaliation.

The survey also revealed that two out of three of the deported migrants who crossed into the U.S. with a family member were separated from at least one family member, including children, and found that this Border Patrol practice was associated with insecurity, financial difficulties and an increased chance of being abused after returning to Mexico. In addition, it found that 28 percent of those surveyed were deported at night, which put them at increased risk for violence.

The report offered the following recommendations for reducing mistreatment and abuse:

  • Install independent and internal oversight to lock down on misconduct and abuse at CBP.
  • Create a transparent, accountable and responsive complaint process.
  • Overhaul agent and officer training.
  • Equip agents with body cameras.
  • Improve conditions in detention facilities, including reasonable temperature control, access to medical care and nutritious food, and increased access to outside advocacy organizations to increase accountability.
  • Relegate deportations to daylight hours.
  • Keep families together during deportation process.
  • Conduct administrative exit interviews with deportees.

Read the full report here.