Oct. 15, 2019

Edward Sifuentes

SAN DIEGO – The American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of San Diego & Imperial Counties (ACLUF-SDIC) has published a trove of documents related to the neglect and abuse of unaccompanied immigrant children in U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP) custody between 2009 and 2014.

The documents were obtained by the ACLUF-SDIC through a Freedom of Information Act request and a subsequent lawsuit. After a lengthy legal battle, the ACLUF-SDIC received approximately 35,000 heavily redacted pages from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, DHS Office of Inspector General, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and CBP itself.

“Notwithstanding the redactions, important information can be gleaned from the documents,” said Mitra Ebadolahi, senior staff attorney with the ACLUF-SDIC.

“These documents show a persistent pattern of serious allegations of child abuse at the hands of federal immigration officials dating back to 2009,” Ebadolahi said. “Additionally, they show how dysfunctional DHS oversight can be, and underscore the urgent need for meaningful accountability throughout the Department. As part of our commitment to increasing transparency within DHS, we published these records to ensure that the public has access to this important information.”

The records include a wide range of document types, including: agency emails describing complaints or investigations; victim affidavits; DHS employee affidavits; complaints submitted by third parties or nonprofit organizations; agency files or memos compiling public complaints or describing internal investigations; online complaint forms; reports of investigations; and documentation of interviews, such as interviews with DHS employees alleged to have abused or mistreated children.

The full set of documents can be viewed here: