November 11, 2022

Senators Warren, Menendez, and Wyden Raise Concern over Lack of Transparency and Responsiveness in CBP Report on Haitian Migrant Treatment at Southern Border

“This report will stand as the government’s official record of the day’s events; it is important that all efforts are made to ensure it is complete and fully documents the experiences of victims of, and witnesses to, CBP personnel’s actions”

Text of Letter (PDF)

Washington, D.C. — United States Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), along with Senators Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), sent a letter to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Commissioner Chris Magnus and CBP Assistant Commissioner in the Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) Matthew Klein raising concerns about the final report released by CBP OPR on July 8 regarding the treatment of Haitian migrants at the southern border last year. 

On September 19, 2021, Border Patrol agents in the Horse Patrol Unit (HPU) joined Texas Department of Public Safety troopers in clearing an encampment of approximately 15,000 migrants – mostly from Haiti – who were waiting in Del Rio, Texas to seek asylum in the United States. The next day images and reporting surfaced of the agents using physical and intimidating treatment against the migrants. 

The HPU agents involved in the actions were placed on administrative leave and the CBP OPR opened an investigation into this event. While investigators conducted over 30 interviews with Border Patrol management officials, Border Patrol agents, Texas troopers, reporters present, and other personnel, they apparently did not interview a single migrant present in Del Rio that day. On July 8, 2022, three months after the investigation concluded, CBP OPR released a final report about the conduct of HPU agents on that day. The agents are facing disciplinary actions based on the report’s findings. 

“The apparent failure of CBP OPR to interview any member of a group of individuals who were directly and crucially involved in the incident means that CBP OPR has released a report based on an inadequate and incomplete investigation,” wrote the lawmakers. “These deficiencies in the investigation also raise concerns as to what additional information CBP OPR may have excluded.”

On April 20, 2022, Senators Warren, Menendez, Ben Cardin (D-Md.), and Wyden sent a private inquiry to CBP requesting information on CBP OPR’s progress in their investigation of the events that occurred in Del Rio, Texas.  The senators never received a reply to their April letter.

“There have been calls that this investigation was a ‘sham’ and is part of a larger issue of inaction by the federal government to take seriously the human rights concerns of migrants,” wrote the lawmakers. “ It is imperative additional action is taken to ensure that the legitimacy and credibility of the report is not further questioned.” 

The lawmakers requested a response from Commissioner Magnus and Assistant Commissioner Klein by November 28, 2022.

Senator Warren is committed to protecting the rights and wellbeing of individuals seeking asylum in the United States:

  • In October 2021, during Commissioner Magnus’s nomination hearing, Senator Elizabeth Warren questioned him on the need for transparency in the investigation into the treatment of Haitian migrants in Del Rio, Texas.
  • In October 2021, Senator Warren joined Senator Bob Menendez in sending a letter to Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas and Secretary of State Antony Blinken to express their disappointment over the United States’ inhumane treatment of Haitian migrants at the southern border and their summary deportations.
  • In November 2021, Senator Warren led a letter to the Office of Refugee Resettlement calling on them to coordinate with the government agencies of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to assist newly arrived families from Haiti.
  • In September 2021, Senator Warren called out the inhumane treatment of Haitian migrants and called on the administration to focus on humanitarian efforts.
  • In May 2021, Senator Warren supported the Biden administration’s announcement redesignating Haiti for TPS for 18 months.