The New Vision

Report: many migrants abused and mistreated during border deportations

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More than one-third of deported migrants at the Arizona-Mexico border have experienced some type of abuse or mistreatment at the hands of U.S. Border Patrol officials, according to a report released by the Kino Border Initiative (KBI), a Catholic social services agency in the border cities of Nogales.
The report surveyed 358 Mexican migrants deported from the United States to Nogales, Sonora between July 2014 and this past March. It was commissioned by the Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States and KBI.
The abuse migrants said they encountered includes theft, physical and verbal abuse and inhumane detention conditions.
“The Church recognizes the urgency of this issue and the suffering that men, women and children go through because they’re forced to leave their places of origin, either because of economic need, violence or family separation,” Father Sean Carroll, S.J., KBI’s executive director, said in a released statement. “These experiences really harm and undermine their God-given human dignity and so the Church recognizes the need to be present to these people and to change the structures that cause their deep suffering and pain.”
Furthermore, the study finds that those migrants alleging abuse were unlikely to file a complaint. The data also shows that family members apprehended together by the Border Patrol are regularly not deported together. This family separation can lead to being physically or even sexually attacked by others, researchers said.
The report calls on the Border Patrol to institute several reforms, including an open, accessible, accountable complaint process and that all Customs and Border Protection agents should be equipped with body-worn cameras.
Additionally, they call for deportations to Mexican border towns to occur only during daylight hours, which is often not the case currently, and to preserve family unity upon deportation, among other recommendations.
“This was an opportunity to share the voices of immigrants,” said Joanna Foote Williams, director of education and advocacy for KBI. “It’s an issue of protecting people’s rights and their dignity.”
Bishop Gerald Kicanas has made several visits with migrants at a soup kitchen in Nogales, Sonora as well  as Border Patrol officials in Nogales, Ariz. Bishop Kicanas has testified before Congress in Washington in favor of comprehensive immigration reform.

The New Vision managing editor Victor Calderón contributed to this report.

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