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

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.

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.

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