Migrants under the age of 18 say they have experienced beatings, sexual assault, deprivation of food and water and even death threats at the hands of immigration officials while being held by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, an agency within the Department of Homeland Security.
This alleged mistreatment is the subject of a report released Wednesday by the American Civil Liberties Union and University of Chicago Law School, which scoured more than 30,000 pages of documents relating to incidents that took place from 2009 to 2014.
The complaints range from unprofessional behavior by officials to disturbing acts of abuse reported at all three stages of immigration enforcement, from apprehension and detention to deportation.
In one case, a 16-year-old boy said he was thrown to the ground and stomped on by a border patrol agent. A girl said she was denied pain medication and sanitary napkins after she underwent surgery to remove an ovarian cyst. Others reported being pressured into signing “self-deportation” forms, which expedite deportation and denies migrants a full hearing before an immigration judge.
The report, which calls U.S. immigration law “notoriously complex,” says records indicate the two agencies charged with overseeing CBP – the DHS’s Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties and the Office of Inspector General – are essentially toothless and “have failed to properly investigate, much less remedy, alleged abuse.”
Joining us to discuss the report are University of Chicago assistant clinical law professor Claudia Flores, who is also director of the school’s International Human Rights Clinic; and Nabihah Maqbool, a third-year University of Chicago law student who helped research and draft the report.
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