Lawsuits Allege Abuses By Immigration Authorities

By Jill Replogle
March 13, 2013

A 4-year-old United States citizen detained with her grandfather for 20 hours with only a cookie to eat and nowhere to nap.

Three women apprehended near the Texas-Mexico border and held in a freezing cell for days on end with no beds or blankets.

These are some of the allegations against U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents contained in 10 lawsuits filed in recent days by private lawyers and immigrant and civil rights groups. The cases range from physical abuse to racial profiling.

The groups behind the lawsuits, including the D.C.-based American Immigration Council, Northwest Immigrant Rights Project and ACLU of San Diego and Imperial Counties, want better oversight of immigration authorities.

“The upcoming immigration reform debates have to be about more than meeting benchmarks, all of which have been met in the past,” said Melissa Crow, director of the legal action center at the American Immigration Council.

“They also must include how CBP will hold its officers accountable for misconduct and prevent them from using unlawful tactics in the future,” Crow said.

She added that lawmakers need to question how CBP is using its resources and whether additional resources are really needed to secure the border.