A U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agent.

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U.S. government paid out $60M to cover border patrol-related deaths, assaults

That equates to a settlement paid once every 32 hours.


Samantha Grasso

Layer 8

Posted on May 1, 2018   Updated on May 21, 2021, 5:00 pm CDT

Between October 2005 and July 2017, the federal government paid out more than $60 million in settlements for U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents who were involved in deaths, driving injuries, assault allegations, and wrongful detentions, according to a report from the Guardian.

In a review of treasury payment records spanning more than a decade, court documents and media reports revealed settlements of at least 20 wrongful death claims on behalf of CBP totaling more than $9 million, more than 1,300 cases of alleged reckless driving totaling nearly $47 million in damages, four cases of wrongful deportation including two U.S. citizens and one legal permanent resident, and nine cases of illegal detentions.

A review of 40 of the 1,300 payments made over alleged reckless driving damages found that six crashes were fatal, and 18 cases cited injuries including amputations and disability.

Documents also revealed the federal government paid more than $650,000 in settling four cases in which border patrol agents shot four people, all of whom survived. The Guardian also found another $6 million paid to settle other allegations involving non-deadly force and civil rights violations including racial profiling, unreasonable searches, lengthy detainment, and assault.

On average over the 12-year period, the federal government paid settlements on behalf of CBP once every 32 hours, totaling more than $177 million. This figure encompasses the $60 million for the above cases, as well as $116 million in claims related to employment or property.

The $177 million is only a fraction of the total CBP has paid for all claims in that dozen-year span. The documents reviewed by the Guardian only represent payments made from the federal Judgement Fund, which pays out if an agency doesn’t have enough funds to cover a claim’s damages. The Department of Homeland (DHS) security did not disclose to the Guardian additional payments made directly to plaintiffs on the behalf of CBP.

CBP is the largest and most funded federal law enforcement agency, employing an estimated 60,000 people, 20,000 of which are border patrol agents stationed nationwide, mostly along the U.S.-Mexico border.

The report comes days after the Los Angeles Times reported that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), another agency under the DHS, had wrongfully arrested more than 1,480 U.S. citizens since 2012 under the mistaken belief that they’re deportation-eligible undocumented immigrants.

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*First Published: May 1, 2018, 1:47 pm CDT