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No Action Taken: Lack of CBP Accountability in Responding to Complaints of Abuse

May 6, 2014

Washington D.C. - Today, the American Immigration Council releases No Action Taken: Lack of CBP Accountability in Responding to Complaints of Abuse, by Daniel E. Martinez, Ph.D., Guillermo Cantor, Ph.D., and Water A. Ewing, Ph.D., a report that analyzes complaints filed with U.S. Customs and Border Protection between 2009 and 2012. The analysis is based on information received through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) litigation. The report examines one of the few avenues available for people to report mistreatment by Border Patrol agents - namely, the complaint system. For a long time, advocates and legal providers on the border have highlighted the flaws in the complaint system. This report is the first systematic attempt to document the problem in a rigorous way. In addition, a coalition of immigrants' rights groups has developed and released recommendations to DHS to address the CBP Complaint Process.

"CBP has long been suspected of routinely violating individuals’ rights, and the fact that 97 percent of the cases in which a formal decision was issued resulted in 'No Action Taken,' raises a red flag. We don’t really know how serious CBP is about investigating the complaints, but given the seriousness of the allegations, the majority of which involve either physical abuse or excessive use of force, the lack of responsiveness that the numbers show is indeed worrisome," said Guillermo Cantor, Senior Policy Analyst at the American Immigration Council and one of the report authors.

"These stark findings exemplify the culture of impunity that prevails at CBP. Given the tremendous resources appropriated to CBP, the agency must do a better job of holding its officers accountable for misconduct," said Melissa Crow, Director of the Council's Legal Action Center, which filed the FOIA litigation.

To view the report and recommendations in their entirety, see:

No Action Taken: Lack of CBP Accountability in Responding to Complaints of Abuse (Immigration Council Special Report, May 2014)

Recommendations to DHS to Improve Complaint Processing (Women's Refugee Commision, May 2014)

To listen to a recording of a tele-briefing on the report, visit:

No Action Taken: Telebriefing (May 6, 2014)