Customs and Border Patrol agents have engaged in “widespread abuse” of travelers at points of entry along the U.S.-Mexican border, the American Civil Liberties Union alleged in a complaint Thursday.
The ACLU alleged that border patrol agents used “excessive force; unwarranted, invasive and humiliating personal searches; unjustified and repeated detentions based on misidentification; and the use of coercion to force individuals to surrender their legal rights, citizenship documents, and property.”
CBP, said the ACLU, needs to “promptly investigate these individual allegations of abuse and undertake a comprehensive investigation of POE complaints involving CBP officers to determine whether CBP Office of Field Operations officers are complying with their obligations under the U.S. Constitution, international law, and agency guidelines.”
The ACLU cites a 2010 incident in which a border patrol agent shot and killed a 15-year-old Mexican boy who was allegedly part of a group throwing rocks at U.S. agents. Justice Department officials declined to prosecute the border patrol agent involved.
The complaint recounts 11 instances, most involving citizens or individuals lawfully residing or visiting the U.S., in which border patrol agents allegedly disregarded “the civil and human rights of individuals crossing the border in apparent violation of the U.S. Constitution, international law and agency guidelines.
In one case, a Chilean businessman named Hernan Cuevas who was legally attempting to enter the U.S. was strip searched and detained for three hours without any explanation, according to the ACLU.
“I don’t give a fuck of your educated manners and all your corporate bullshit,” an agent allegedly told Cuevas. “This is my country now and when you are here, you listen to me. I don’t like your kind that takes our jobs and uses our system…”
Contacted by TPM, a CBP official didn’t respond directly to the allegations but said they cooperate with investigations into misconduct.
“CBP stresses honor and integrity in every aspect of our mission, and the overwhelming majority of CBP employees and officers perform their duties with honor and distinction, working tirelessly every day to keep our country safe,” a CBP official told TPM. “We do not tolerate corruption or abuse within our ranks, and we fully cooperate with any criminal or administrative investigations of alleged misconduct by any of our personnel, on or off duty.”