Many deported immigrants don't recover belongings

AP News
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Posted: Dec 10, 2014 4:38 PM

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — About a third of the immigrants deported from the U.S.-Mexico border don't recover belongings that were seized during their arrest, according to a report from a humanitarian group released Wednesday.

The Tucson, Arizona-based aid organization No More Deaths says the statistic shows a risk for migrants who often lose money or identification cards and become stranded with no way home.

Most likely to lose their possessions are immigrants prosecuted under Operation Streamline, a policy requiring that people caught crossing the border illegally face criminal proceedings.

No More Death says immigration officials and detention centers lack an adequate system to track personal property, and in some cases immigrants accuse Border Patrol agents of theft.

Department of Homeland Security officials dispute the group's assessment, saying standards are in place to make sure property is returned and that any claims of missing property are thoroughly investigated.

"Any unlawful conduct by DHS employees is completely inconsistent with our values and the highest standards of conduct to which he holds all DHS employees," Homeland Security spokeswoman Marsha L. Catron said. "DHS takes allegations seriously and, if substantiated, will always take appropriate disciplinary action."

The report is based on nearly 1,500 cases from 2011 to 2014 and 165 interviews conducted by the University of Arizona.