BY ISN STAFF | February 11, 2021
The Kino Border Initiative (KBI), with the support of the Catholic Charities Immigration Clinic at Gonzaga School of Law, has submitted a detailed report to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Mayorkas with information regarding complaints filed by KBI throughout the Trump Administration and in the first weeks of the Biden Administration.
Since 2017, KBI has submitted 73 complaints against the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for misconduct and mistreatment of immigrants at the U.S.-Mexico border. An overwhelming majority of these complaints (50) involve Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) failure to provide due process to asylum seekers which include improper Title 42 expulsions; Migrant Protection Protocol (MPP) failures; and inappropriate metering.
“While our complaints are rooted in the application of immigration law and policy, our concern runs deeper than their implementation because the policies themselves are inhumane,” reads a KBI statement. “The DHS has only provided definitive responses to 14 of the 73 complaints, revealing an overall structural deficiency in the investigative process.”
The report urges Secretary Mayorkas to address DHS abuses highlighted by the complaints, six of which have been submitted since President Biden’s inauguration, as well as the underlying policies that create the conditions for this abuse. In the report, Joanna Williams, current director of education and advocacy for KBI, wrote that “many have been victimized in Mexico following unlawful returns, scarred by CBP physical abuse, and otherwise left without the protection to which they are entitled under international and domestic law for asylum claims ignored.”
In addition to addressing misconduct within CBP, KBI has called on Secretary Mayorkas to commit by February 22nd to meet personally with the individuals whose complaints have gone unanswered. “As those who have suffered at the hands of the agency that you now lead,” reads the statement, “they deserve your transparency and commitment to ameliorate the structural deficiencies in which these abuses are rooted.”
In late January, Catholic bishops from every state along the U.S.-Mexico border, together with the Kino Border Initiative, HOPE Border Institute, Sister Norma Pimentel, Catholic Charities agencies at the border, and women and men religious called upon the Biden Administration to work to for transformative immigration reform, including the restoration of asylum at the border.