A new study by a watchdog on immigration found that the biggest federal law enforcement agency in the United States rarely disciplines its agents for mistreating immigrants as well as American citizens.
The American Immigration Council’s new report found that nearly 97% of all abuse complaints that had been lodged against agents from the Border Patrol and officers from Border and Customs Protection resulted in zero disciplinary action after the completion of an investigation.
Included in the complaints was one from a woman who was pregnant and living in El Paso, Texas. She said she miscarried after being kicked in the stomach by an agent from Border Patrol. Several other complaints were from women that said they had to expose their breasts while they were in custody.
The study found as well that many of the complaints filed against agents took years to be resolved. The council said it reviewed more than 809 complaints that were filed over a three-year period between January of 2009 and January of 2012.
Out of those, just 485 were investigated and then resolved. The rest were still being investigated, including an allegation of nearly 5-years ago of forced sexual intercourse against an El Centro, California agent from the Border Patrol.
Amongst the different cases still listed as pending investigation, the average time between the complaint date and the last record date in the folder is 389 days, said the study.
U.S. Border and Customs Protection is the country’s largest agency for law enforcement, yet it has not been matched with adequate oversight or accountability, said a member of the American Civil Liberties Union in New Mexico.
The new report also gives a detailed examination into the responses from the government to the abuse complaints.
According to data, physical abuse was the complaint most often filed, followed by an excessive use of forces, while other allegations included racial profiling and inadequate conditions.
In all seven allegations had been made for sexual abuse, including three for forced sexual intercourse. While four were for inappropriate touching or making females expose their bare breasts.
However, 11 different instances had not been classified as being sexual abuse seemed to be similar to others that had been, including two where women said they had been forced to expose their bare breasts, four complaints of illegal strip searches along with four complaints of inappropriate touching while carrying out a search.