No More Deaths, et al. v. U.S. Customs and Border Protection, 1:21-cv-00954 (S.D.N.Y., filed Feb. 3, 2021)
Every year hundreds, and possibly thousands, of migrants die while crossing into the United States from Mexico. The U.S. Border Patrol, within Customs and Border Protection (CBP), is responsible for most emergency aid requests for assistance in the desert, in part because local law enforcement agencies often refer 911 calls for emergency to Border Patrol when Spanish-speaking individuals call seeking help. Border Patrol’s role as an emergency services provider at the border is directly at odds with its role as an immigration enforcement agency.
Documentation by No More Deaths (NMD), a border aid organization, suggests that Border Patrol has often failed to carry out its search and rescue responsibilities: in 63% of all border distress calls referred to Border Patrol, the agency did not conduct any confirmed search or rescue mobilization. And when Border Patrol does initiate searches, they are significantly less effective when compared to government-run searches for missing or lost U.S. citizens. Some last less than a day, or scarcely an hour. Documentation by local human rights organizations shows that in over 100 cases over a two-year period, Border Patrol agents actively interfered with family and humanitarian-organization led search efforts.
In April 2019, NMD and the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) filed a FOIA request seeking information about CBP’s practices and policies relating to emergency services it claims to provide along the U.S.-Mexico border. In February 2020, after CBP failed to provide records for over 20 months, NMD and CCR filed a complaint seeking to compel an immediate, expedited search for and disclosure of requested records.
Counsel: Center for Constitutional Rights
Contact: Angelo Guisado, Center for Constitutional Rights | firstname.lastname@example.org