CBP has recently come under fire for shocking behavior at ports of entry and for firing weapons without adequate follow up investigation. Now the American Immigration Council has issued a report outlining the agency’s failure to follow up on most of the complaints it receives about abuse by its agents. From the New York Times:
On Feb. 16, 2010, a Mexican teenager caught trying to cross into the United States near Douglas, Ariz., filed a formal complaint accusing a Border Patrol agent of punching him in the face during his arrest.
Three months later, a pregnant woman in or around El Paso reported that a Border Patrol agent had kicked her during an apprehension, causing her to miscarry.
In both cases, records show, no disciplinary action was taken. And it was no different for the vast majority of cases that reached United States Customs and Border Protection’s internal affairs office, according to new data obtained through a public records request by the American Immigration Council, a Washington-based immigrant advocacy group. Of 809 abuse complaints against agents within 100 miles of the Southwest border from January 2009 to January 2012, only 13 led to disciplinary action, and typically that meant counseling, internal affairs records showed.
“These stark findings exemplify the culture of impunity that prevails at C.B.P.,” said Melissa Crow, director of the council’s Legal Action Center. “Given the tremendous resources appropriated to C.B.P., the agency must do a better job of holding its officers accountable.”
Some are blaming the massive expansion of the Border Patrol over the last few years, but that assumes this was not a problem before that. Hopefully, the White House will conduct a serious review of what is happening at CBP and hold people accountable. Thankfully, we have organizations like AIC, the ACLU and the New York Times that investigate, report and litigate when government is failing.