The Border Patrol Was Monstrous Under Obama. Imagine How Bad It Is Under Trump.

UPDATE: On May 23, CBP issued a statement calling our report unfounded. Our point-by-point rebuttal is here.

On a December morning, Border Patrol agents confronted a 15-year-old high school student named Jahveel Ocampo at a rest stop in California while she and her friends were on their way to the mountains to see the winter’s first snow. Jahveel was a young child when she came to the United States from Mexico with her parents, and she grew up undocumented in southern California. She was a mother to a 2-year-old child, who was a U.S. citizen.

An agent in a blue jacket asked whether Jahveel was an “illegal.” He handcuffed her and drove her to a Border Patrol station in the border town of Campo. There, he slapped her twice on the buttocks and ordered her into a cell. He and another male agent told her to sign an “order of voluntary departure,” a deportation order. She refused.

Then the threats began. One agent said, in Spanish, according to the complaint she filed later, “Right now, we close the door, we rape you and f*** you. If you cooperate with us, we can deport you to Mexico. Otherwise, we will take you to jail and deport your entire family.” They told her that her child would end up in foster care.

Terrified and alone, Jahveel signed.

If you assumed this abuse happened during the Trump administration, think again. Jahveel was threatened in 2009 by President Obama’s Border Patrol, and her treatment was not an isolated incident. Her case is part of a pattern of physical, sexual, and emotional abuse by Customs and Border Protection officials against child immigrants that existed long before President Trump emboldened the agency by unleashing its officers to enforce his draconian immigration policies.

We have received more than 30,000 pages of internal government documents detailing this abuse between 2009 and 2014 throughout the southern border region. These records, obtained through an ACLU Freedom of Information Act request and subsequent litigation, offer a glimpse into an immigration enforcement system that had been plagued by brutality and lawlessness long before Trump was elected.

Customs and Border Protection — the Border Patrol’s parent agency — is now the largest law enforcement organization in the United States, with more than 60,000 employees and a fiscal year 2018 budget of $16.4 billion. And while the number of people crossing the border without documents has dropped significantly, Trump has said he wants to hire thousands more Border Patrol agents while deploying the National Guard to the border to bolster its forces. Now the federal government has created a policy of separating immigrant children from their parents, which could dramatically increase the number of minors encountering immigration officials by themselves and create potential for expanded abuses.

Our FOIA request yielded documents from four agencies in the Department of Homeland Security. On Wednesday, the ACLU and the International Human Rights Clinic at the University of Chicago School of Law released a report that includes documents from one agency, the Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, a DHS oversight agency. We will release additional documents from the other three agencies in the coming months.

The records show that the leadership at Customs and Border Protection were well aware of the allegations of unlawful child abuse — including people still now directing the agency — yet there is no indication that any individual official was ever held accountable for abuse.

In one complaint we obtained, a Border Patrol agent grabbed a girl he claimed was running away, handcuffed her to someone else and dragged them together along the ground, causing “two bruises on her neck, scratches to her shoulders and arms, and thorns in her head.” A 16-year-old recounted that a Border Patrol agent threw him down before he used his boot to smash his head into the ground.

Other children allege that agents assaulted them with their feet, fists, flashlights, and Tasers. In one case, an agent ran over a 17-year-old with a patrol vehicle and then got out and punched the child in the head and body. Often, children noted that other agents witnessed the abuse or saw the injuries but refused them medical attention. In one case, agents accused a pregnant minor of lying about the pain — which turned out to be labor contractions preceding a stillbirth.

The abuse was also sexual. During an arrest in the desert in Phoenix, Arizona, an agent grabbed a child’s buttocks and only stopped when she screamed and another agent approached. In another incident, a 16-year-old girl reported that a Border Patrol agent forcefully spread her legs and touched her genitals so hard she screamed in pain.

President Trump was endorsed by the Border Patrol union, which had never previously endorsed a presidential candidate. If the abuses were this bad under Obama when the Border Patrol described itself as constrained, imagine how it must be now under Trump, who vowed to unleash the agents to do their jobs.

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Anonymous

If Trump forces these jerks to do their job, then that means he demands integrity. Their job is not to assault children....its to protect our border. Perhaps this is why the military has been deployed to the border....to watch over the patrol during a migrant caravan.

Aaron

If trump forces these jerks to do their job? How can he do what he knows nothing of? Besides if you were paying any attention you would know that what he did was give them free reign to go ahead and abuse all the minors that you want because he ordered them to separate the innocent minors from their families and relocate them to no specified location or destination without ordering any record keeping? That was like giving sadistic rapists and pedophiles victims for their personal use and sick pleasures and keep them for all he cared because he was more concerned about enforcing his unlawful Zero Tolerance Policy that provoked the Presidential order of Child Abuse and Kidnapping that he is responsible for? Thousands of these minors are still unaccounted for and if they have been sold into the sex trade or have been murdered that's all on him!You're making up reasons to explain trump's maligned political campaign stunt of the insulting and costly misuse of our Armed Services men and women using it as a political tool for his and the Party's benefit but all that showed the Majority of America how shallow and full of himself he is that he would dishonor and disrespect our brave soldiers by using these trained defenders of freedom as nothing more than glorified hall monitors who could not interfere, interact, apprehend of use any armed resistance toward the immigrant families who trump falsely claimed were a caravan of invaders with Murderers, Rapists, Drug Dealers, Gang bangers, and Terrorists among them? None were found?! After the election was over there was no longer any impending threat of an invasion? What happened to all the threatening invaders trump kept telling the world was coming into our country?

Anonymous

It’s disgusting that this took place and even more so that you can equate this with Trump as anticipation of fault. It’s like saying well, that foster parent was horribly cruel,... I can even imagine how bad the next will be. At least Trump has put an end to separation of child from parents, unlike past administrations.

Anonymous

What kind of ACLU is this? Civil liberties only matter if your illegal it seems.. They dont stand up for law they stand to the Left.. Obama and presidents before all handled the border as a broken fence instead of actually securing it to prevent ALL of this Craziness.. Instead its left OPEN for more people to die trying to cross, and since ACLU dont really care about Americans, The American citizens that are getting Killed, Rapped, Drugged, Sold into Sex and so many other tragedies caused by illegals not to mention the DRAG on our economy in government services etc. Get some Common Sense! Trumps Wall will Stop a major part of this and at the very least help the Border Patrol and ICE know who is coming in.. COMMON SENSE is LOst on ACLU and the Main Stream Media..

Anonymous

Words are powerful as you should know and I believe that we all shall be responsible for the spoken words that flow from our mouths and fountain pens. Taking responsibility will be required from each one of us. (Draconian?).
Win friends and influence people is part of word usage....

Anonymous

What the ACLU fails to mention in this article is that THEIR OWN LAWSUIT against the Obama Administration is the reason why Trump separates families from children. Because THEY won the suit and now it's illegal for "families" to be detained. So, Trump now "follows the law" by separating the kids and their parents since the ACLU made it illegal through a successful suit to "detain families."

Great job, ACLU...you won...and made it WORSE.

Aaron

There is no such law? trump separated them without thinking the ramifications of his actions through and worse put the innocent minors in the custody of possible rapists and molesters as has been made public by reports from the ACLU investigations all because of his irrational need to enforce his unlawful Zero Tolerance Policy which was never voted into law by congress yet he ordered it enforced as if it were? His orders directly caused the unrecorded relocation of over 2,500 innocent minors who became lost in the system and for all anyone knows some may have fallen into the clutches of the unsavory Patrol Agents who may have kept their charges for their sick pleasures? Thousands are still missing? If these poor children have met some terrible fate of further abuse or death that is all on trump's head! He's already guilty of 2,800 counts of Child Abuse and Kidnapping when he ordered the separation of children from their families! The law you've got all twisted in your empty head is that it's against the law to separate families and if parents are held then they have to be held in detention that can house their family and only for 24 hours! That's why he needs to hire more judges and personnel at the borders to expedite processing of immigrant seeking asylum!
Only his rumpness makes things worse every single day!

Anonymous

If alleging abuse would make the difference between staying in the USA or being shipped back across the border, I'm sure none of the allegations could be false, regardless of who was/is president.

A. Cole

You had me with you until your last paragraph (below). What is the purpose of throwing an unsubstantiated jab at our President, our Commander-in-Chief? How can you defend accusing the Border Patrol Agents of committing additional abuses against illegals simply because President Trump is in command? Your statements in the last paragraph are slanderous because there is absolutely n o t h i n g to back up your unfounded accusations.

A real journalist does not report crap like this. Furthermore, I'll bet you ten years salary the Border Patrol Agents under obama did exactly what they were told to do, and those orders come from the top - possibly obama himself. I doubt President Trump would give those kind of orders or tolerate it if he was informed the Border Agents were abusing illegals - children or adults.

Thanks for the hidden truth about obama, but you get a grade of zero from me because of this last paragraph. Very, very unprofessional and uncalled for.

"President Trump was endorsed by the Border Patrol union, which had never previously endorsed a presidential candidate. If the abuses were this bad under Obama when the Border Patrol described itself as constrained, imagine how it must be now under Trump, who vowed to unleash the agents to do their jobs."

Aaron

Obama had nothing to do with the unforgivable sadistic treatment of the innocent minor immigrants who were assaulted by pigs who dishonored the uniform and the U.S. by their atrocious racist behavior! They are the product of their superiors who have failed to recruit and hire suitable individuals, probably did no background checks and hired reject family and friends who were probably borderline criminals and rapists with convictions? You sick hateful trump loving idiots are quick to judge Obama of anything that he might remotely be responsible for but totally ignore the criminal acts that trump ordered? One of you said at least trump did his act in the open! Well you left out the fact that he openly ORDERED criminal illegal acts of Child Abuse and Kidnapping! See the difference from what you falsely and wrongly accused Obama of doing trump actually did? Obama was never aware of these criminal acts committed by these unworthy agents until the rest of the world knew!

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