U.S. Border Patrol Cruel Treatment of Personal Belongings of Migrants Exposed in New Report

By Kyndall Dowell and Sofia Hosseinzadeh 

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – A new report by the ACLU of Arizona this week revealed the Border Patrol’s harsh treatment of migrants’ personal belongings on the Southern Border.

Zoe Martens, Advocacy Coordinator at Kino Border Initiative, charged, “These inhumane practices serve no purpose but to demoralize people seeking safety and a better life; these abuses must end.”

The report, From Hope to Heartbreak, detailed personal accounts of migrants who suffered from the Border Patrol’s confiscation of their belongings.

One account details the story of a five-year old migrant using the alias “Rosa” who relies on medication and a specific diet to treat her epilepsy.

“When detained by (U.S. Customs and Border Protection), Rosa’s medications were taken away, and the family was refused any medical assistance until later that night, after Rosa began convulsing,” the report stated.

“These sweeping draconian policies and practices around personal property are indefensible. Seizing migrants’ belongings, and then trashing or refusing to return them, is morally and legally wrong,” wrote immigrants’ rights groups in a letter to U.S Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

The report urges CBP to alter its policies towards the handling of migrant’s belongings to “Allow  migrants to retain as many of their personal belongings as possible, prioritizing essential belongings – from its initial encounter with migrants to their release from U.S. government custody.”

“The confiscation of migrants’ medications and medical devices, and the failure to return them, directly illustrates the way in which Border Patrol’s property practices put migrants’ health and safety at risk,” the report urged.

Additional recommendations in the report suggest migrants have access to their medications and medical devices as required as well as having the policies accommodate religious garbs – the report noted stories of migrants forced to discard their turbans.

“‘They told me to take off my turban. I know a little English, and I said, ‘It’s my religion.’ But they insisted,” reported a migrant in the Hope to Heartbreak report.

In addition to the ACLU of Arizona’s support, the report is co-authored by The Kino Border Initiative, Protect AZ Health, the Sikh Coalition, the ACLU, and the ACLUs of New Mexico, San Diego & Imperial Counties and Texas.

About The Author

Kyndall Dowell is a graduating student from the University of California, Berkeley where she began her long standing career in student organizing and activism, headlining campaigns, building coalitions, and chairing departments across the state of California. Many of her efforts included K-12 reform, school-to-prison pipeline, and police brutality, as well as efforts around supporting marginalized student groups and communities on campus with obtaining access to funding and other essential resources. She has earned her Bachelors in African American Studies with a double minor both in Education and Race and Law. She hails from Inglewood's East Hyde Park District where repeated exposure to the criminal justice system from an early age allowed her to find her place in social justice and advocacy work, where she knew she wanted to be on the right side of history making. Kyndall's career passions are greatly influenced by her South Los Angeles upbringing where she spent a great deal of her youth, living in West Adams, Baldwin Village also known as 'The Jungles', and Crenshaw's 59th and Slauson neighborhoods. In an attempt to avoid the troubles of street violence her mother moved her and her sisters to Hawthorne, where she attended Leuzinger High School off Rosecrans and Jefferson in an area less criminally active though heavily policed. She's a skilled facilitator in Restorative Justice and hopes to use her education and transformative Black Feminist philosophy to become an impactful Criminal Defense Attorney. At the current moment she is working as a Legal Assistant at a Law Firm in downtown Oakland and will be pursuing her Paralegal license through the UCLA Law Certificate program to obtain in-field experience before tackling Law school. In her free-time she enjoys shopping, cooking, reading, traveling and hanging out with friends.

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