San Diego, CA (December 10, 2019) - Today on International Human Rights Day, the American Friends Service Committee’s (AFSC) U.S.-Mexico Program released “Children at the Crosshairs of Immigration Enforcement,” a report that documents numerous cases in San Diego County where children were detrimentally impacted by the enforcement actions of Customs and Border Protection (CBP), which includes Border Patrol, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
The summary of key findings is:
- Three of the minors interviewed believed that ICE agents were kidnapping them. Having officers in civilian clothes conducting enforcement operations in the community is problematic, especially when officers are not properly displaying their badge or refuse to identify to which law enforcement agency they belong.
- ICE has failed to enforce its policy that is meant to ensure that US citizen and Legal Permanent Resident minors are cared for by people of trust when operations are conducted and when parents are detained.
- CBP is detaining USC children, primarily indigenous children, at the port of entry and falsely accusing those that travel with them of alien smuggling or aiding and abetting without the necessary proof.
- ICE is arresting adults when they have their children present and employ abusive practices that jeopardize the well-being of the minors.
- CBP has failed to follow the safeguards set forth by the Flores agreement to protect children and families in custody. This in turn has resulted in children not being granted appropriate medical treatment when necessary, and in deaths.
- DHS agencies do not have clear guidance on how officers and agents should interact with minors. The cases documented clearly depict how minors are interrogated and threatened in the same way adults are.
“Zealous enforcement of immigration laws by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents increase risks and endanger the lives of migrant and US citizen children. Policymakers must prioritize the fundamental protection of children and hold immigration agencies accountable for their actions. An important step in this direction is by defunding CBP and ICE,” stated Pedro Rios, director of AFSC’s US-Mexico Border Program.
AFSC will present this report and its recommendations to policymakers as they consider policy and legislative decisions impacting border and migrant communities. AFSC encourages families victimized by CBP or ICE to come forward and share their stories so that collectively, we can address systemic and institutional violence that allows immigration enforcement agencies to operate with impunity.
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The American Friends Service Committee is a Quaker organization that promotes lasting peace with justice, as a practical expression of faith in action. Drawing on continuing spiritual insights and working with people of many backgrounds, we nurture the seeds of change and respect for human life that transform social systems.