Letter to the Editor: Why No One Should Work for Customs and Border Protection (CBP)


By Lily Cain, EVPSA Policy Analyst, and Oscar Zarate, EVPSA General Campus Organizer/IDEAS Member

Around the New Year, the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) began a series of mass deportations. These deportations, which affect primarily Central American adults and children, were revealed in an article on Christmas Eve in the Washington Post.

Amidst this recent wave of heavy deportation raids, which break up and disrupt many families during in what is supposed to be a joyful time, the United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will be tabling at the UCSB career fair on Thursday, Jan. 28.

CBP, one of the three branches of the US Department of Homeland Security along with ICE, is known for a number of human rights violations against people fleeing violence and poverty from Latin America. CBP’s misconduct includes extrajudicial killings, excessive force, and sexual abuse; all reasons why one should not even consider working for a governmental organization that habitually infringes on basic human rights.

The death of Anastasio Hernandez-Rojas exemplifies how disturbing their actions can be. In May 2010, Border Patrol agents stopped Hernandez-Rojas after illegally crossing the U.S. border in an attempt to reunite with his family in San Diego. Videos show a dozen CBP agents standing over his body while savagely beating him with batons and torturing him with Tasers. You can hear this man plead for his life and scream out from the pain. Two days later, Hernandez died from the injuries he sustained in the beating.

In addition, a report on Human and Civil Rights violations on the U.S.-Mexico Border from 1995-1997 discovered, based on 63 interviews of victims of human rights abuses, that law enforcement routinely violated people’s most basic rights and that there is a pattern of wrongful practices within the organization.

In 2015, an investigation conducted by CBS News uncovered further human rights violations on the border, specifically a number of allegations of sexual misconduct.

The investigation found that “CBP agents allegedly sexually assaulted women or children immigrant detainees at least 35 times between 2012 and 2014,” a number that is significantly higher than rates of other federal law enforcement agencies.

Furthermore, in the last six years, at least 21 customs or border patrol agents were indicted or pleaded guilty to sexual offenses, and that five more were arrested in the year prior to the investigation.

CBP is part of a system in our country that punishes people for fleeing unstable and dangerous situations, hoping to enhance their lives and build safer futures. However, once they get here they are not completely safe from danger, for they face a system that can be just as lethal as the journey they traversed to get to a “better” place.

Migrants struggling to receive protection get their basic human rights violated by organizations like CBP who receive impunity through the façade that they are combating terrorism and inexistent accountability for their actions.

CBP is an agency riddled with copious accounts of wrongdoing and misconduct, so much so that no student at UCSB should approach the table they will be occupying in our career fair this Thursday. In profiting off the separation of families and destruction of livelihood, it is clear that CBP stands against the values of our university and should not have a place in our campus.


  1. Judging an entire group of people based on the actions of a few is racist behavior. A few bad agents shouldn’t indict all of ICE. Also, allegations of abuse are often unsubstantiated and frivolous because they are typically generated by the accused who will say anything to not be held accountable. To count allegations as if they somehow have the same meaning as a conviction is biased reporting. Lastly, itv stands to rEason that if borders are important to you then you’d join ICE or Border Patrol to work on the issue or AT LEAST take a ride along before laying criticism. Remember THEY are people too. Many of them are Latin Americans who have more compassion than most people you’d meet on the street.