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Border Patrol agents questioned for trashing migrants’ personal documents

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Representative Grijalva led 22 members of Congress to demand answers from Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement

WASHINGTON (KYMA, KECY) - Representative Raul M. Grijalva (D-AZ) has led 22 members of Congress to send a letter to U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner (CBP) Chris Magnus and Acting Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Tae D. Johnson regarding the confiscation and discarding of personal documents of migrants by CBP agents.

There has been reported instances of CBP agents confiscating and trashing migrants' personal documents such as birth certificates, passports and other documents needed for asylum cases and religious property.

According to the Government Accountability Office from August 2020, the ICE Detention Reporting Information Line had received over 1,100 complaints about detainee property and it is unclear if they were investigated.

"While the issue of individuals having difficulty in recovering their possessions while in custody or after being deported is not new, I am alarmed by recent accounts of migrants having to forgo their personal belongings, including sensitive documents necessary for asylum cases and religious items, when they first encounter immigration officials at the border. I hope CBP and ICE are able to clarify their policies and procedures on this very important matter," said Rep. Grijalva.

“These individuals are often stranded in unfamiliar border towns with little hope of having their belongings returned." wrote the Members. 

"Without their belongings, individuals face difficulty contacting loved ones and can become targets of violence.

"The loss of identification documents and inability to access funds can make it nearly impossible for them to return to their home cities; if they are able to return home, they face hardship in finding work as they are unable to prove their identity.

"Given the serious and sensitive nature of these personal belongings and documents, we request that your agencies answer, the following questions regarding the specific standards, policies and procedures facilities under your jurisdiction are establishing and implementing and how oversight is conducted to ensure compliance with standards…

"We must ensure that all those who have been detained are treated fairly and with dignity and that their personal belongings are safeguarded.”

Here is the link for the full letter and questions to CBP and ICE.

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Faith Rodriquez

Faith Rodriquez is a digital content producer who joined in 2022.

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