Media Contact

Matt Levin, ACLU of Texas, 772-529-4365, media@aclutx.org

August 6, 2021

HOUSTON — The American Civil Liberties Union of Texas released today a resource that tracks fatal encounters with Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers and Border Patrol agents.

The recent decision to implement body-worn cameras for CBP agents underscores the lack of oversight the agency has had to date. CBP does not publicly release the number of fatal incidents in their custody or involving their personnel. According to our tracker, since 2010, there have been 177 known fatal encounters with CBP, including incidents involving children and pregnant individuals.

Some of the most disturbing incidents include an agent shooting and killing a teenager across the border in Mexico; agents neglecting a dying 16-year-old on a Border Patrol cell floor; and agents engaging in deadly high-speed car chases. The tracker reveals concerning trends, including a spike in reported incidents since 2017:

  • Deaths in custody: 28 since 2017, out of 34 total since 2010
  • Car chase deaths: 39 since 2017, out 56 total since 2010
  • Deaths of minors: 8 since 2017, out of 12 total since 2010
  • Deaths on the Texas border: 70 since 2017, out of 100 total since 2010

“The failure to hold CBP — the nation’s largest law enforcement agency — accountable has had deadly consequences. It is past time to overhaul this rogue agency that continues to harm migrants and border communities,” said Shaw Drake, staff attorney and policy counsel on border and immigrants’ rights, ACLU of Texas. “People along the border have the same constitutional rights as everyone else in this country, yet Border Patrol agents routinely violate people’s rights and exceed the limits of their legal authority, often with impunity.”

Despite CBP’s long record of negligence and abuse, no agent has faced meaningful consequences for deaths that have occurred on the agency’s watch. To this day, many families continue to seek justice for the loss of their loved ones.

The CBP Fatal Encounters tracker can be found here: https://www.aclutx.org/en/cbp-fatal-encounters-tracker