What the Border Patrol Doesn’t Want You to Know About Their Abuses

A look inside the culture of violent misogyny and racism that starts in training

rebeca centeno
ZORA
Published in
8 min readAug 30, 2019

--

Photo: Guillermo Arias/Getty

“T“They don’t protect me, they rape me,” women in green bandanas shouted at police in Mexico City on August 16 as thousands of mostly young women took to the streets to protest the alleged rape of two teenage girls by officers earlier in the month.

Sexual abuse and gender-based violence in Mexico has reached epidemic proportions, but the culture of misogyny and abuse, particularly by state and federal agents, is not isolated to Latin America.

Many experience the same misogyny and violence from which they are escaping.

There is a culture of misogyny, racism, and violence in Border Patrol. The “I’m 10–15” secret Facebook group, Laredo’s first serial killer — a former Border Patrol agent who murdered four sex workers, thousands of pages of child abuse records obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), evidence of harassment, medical neglect, solitary confinement, and deaths of LGBTQ+ migrants show patterns of violence and sexual abuse. Border Patrol’s culture of violence and misogyny is dangerous, and not just for migrant women in custody. Male agents in the federal immigration agency also harass and abuse female colleagues.

Thousands of women, children, and members of the LGBTQ+ community flee violence from Latin American countries each year with the hopes of safety and refuge in the United States. Instead, many experience the same misogyny and violence from which they are escaping. But this time, it’s at the hands of federal agents at the U.S.-Mexico border.

WWhen Clarita (pseudonym used to protect her identity) and her sister left Guatemala in July 2016, the 19-year-old and 17-year-old prayed for a “safer and more peaceful life” in the United States.

The teenage sisters were traveling with a young boy when they crossed the U.S.-Mexico border and became lost. Tired and thirsty, they flagged down Border Patrol agents in Presidio, Texas to ask for help. The three were taken to a field office and the boy was separated. While in custody, an agent forced both sisters into a…

--

--