Bordering on Criminal: The Routine Abuse of Migrants in the Removal System (Part 1: Migrant Mistreatment While in U.S. Custody)
Washington, DC: American Immigration Council Special Report, December 2013
15 Pages Posted: 20 Jul 2015
Date Written: December 1, 2013
This report focuses on the mistreatment of unauthorized migrants while in U.S. custody. Overall, we find that the physical and verbal mistreatment of migrants is not a random, sporadic occurrence but, rather, a systematic practice. One indication of this is that 11% of deportees report some form of physical abuse and 23% report verbal mistreatment while in U.S. custody — a finding that is supported by other academic studies and reports from nongovernmental organizations. Another highly disturbing finding is that migrants often note they are the targets for nationalistic and racist remarks — something that in no way is integral to U.S. officials’ ability to function in an effective capacity on a day-to-day basis.
We find that, when they occur, physical and verbal abuses are usually perpetrated during the apprehension process. When taken in the context of prior studies, it appears that the abuse of migrants while in U.S. custody is a systemic problem and points to an organizational subculture stemming from a lack of transparency and accountability in U.S. Customs and Border Protection. These patterns of abuse have brought scrutiny to the Border Patrol’s use-of-force policies and created tension in border communities. Future research should examine the longer-term social and psychological consequences of these types of abuse for migrants and their loved ones.
Keywords: abuse, mistreatment, enfocement, unauthorized migration
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