In July, outside of a Catholic Church in Detroit, Border Patrol agents handcuffed a Latino man for what witnesses say was no reason at all. His only crime, according to on-lookers, was looking Latino. Later, it was found that the man arrested was residing in the US legally, and he was released. Unfortunately, this isn’t an isolated indicident. Far from it according to a new report, A Culture of Cruelty: Abuse And Impunity In Short-Term U.S. Border Patrol Custody,” which details rampant U.S. Border Patrol abuse of immigration detainees, deportees and migrants apprehended on the U.S.-Mexico Border.”
Border Patrol has become a national embarrassment.
“Instead of going after hard-core criminals, they would rather go to areas like southwest Detroit and harass people who have the wrong color,” says Ryan Bates, Director of the Michigan office of the Alliance for Immigrants Rights and Reform. Earlier this year, Ryan Bates headed the charge against ICE agents in Detroit who were stalking undocumented immigrants at a local elementary school.
Father Tom Supelveda who saw what happened at the Church told Michigan radio that the incident “disturbed” him, and he was worried over the effect that it would have over his predominantly Latino congregation. According to Michigan Radio’s Sarah Cwiek, “’It certainly is going to kill their desire to come in this direction, or the direction of any church,’ Supelveda says. ‘It’s as if no place is safe.’”
Ironically, the raid happened as special prayers were being held inside the Church for St. Anne, who was named this year as the patron saint of Detroit, according to the Detroit Free Press.
Of course, Border Patrol denies any wrong-doing. But, that’s a very hard sell after according to the new report which was released this week by No More Deaths – a group whose mission is to end death and suffering on the U.S./Mexico border through civil initiative. “A Culture of Cruelty” documents human rights abuses by the US Border Patrol. Through 4,130 interviews with 12,895 individuals who had been in the custody of Border Patrol, the report details more than 30,000 incidents of abuse in the past three years. Among them:
Denial of sufficient food and water
Failure to provide access to medical treatment
Inhumane processing center conditions
Verbal, physical, and psychological abuse
Separation of family members
Dangerous repatriation practices.
Danielle Alvarado was a co-author of A Culture of Cruelty and also Crossing the Line, a similar report on Border Patrol abuse released in 2008. “A key takeaway from the report this time is that not only did these abuses continue, but the Border Patrol knows about them, and rather than addressing these concerns, they have adopted a position that they don’t exist or are not worth taking a serious look,” she said.
“There is no mechanism for oversight that can hold agents accountable for the mistreatment that we know happens on a regular basis,” Alvarado said.