SOUTHERN BORDER — After witnessing egregious human rights violations, the Southern Border Communities Coalition (SBCC) has filed a damning complaint with the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL). The complaint alleges that Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is detaining migrants in cruel, inhuman and degrading conditions in an open-air corridor in California.
For months, CBP has been putting the lives in its custody at risk, and in the last week things have become far worse with migrants facing grave danger. In a corridor in California between two parallel border walls — a primary and secondary wall near the ocean — CBP has been detaining migrants for up to 7 days in deplorable conditions.
The migrants, who come from countries like Afghanistan, Colombia, India, Turkey, and Jamaica, are on U.S. soil in open-air custody without adequate food, water, shelter, sanitation, or medical services. CBP agents have only given migrants one small bottle of water a day and one granola bar, far from adequate to endure, leading migrants to eat leaves to survive (see image below).
CBP has provided only one port-a-potty for hundreds of people, which filled up weeks ago and is unusable. The custody area where children, women, and men are trying to survive smells of feces surrounded by trash that has been collected by migrants with bags provided by advocates, but not picked up by CBP. There is no running water.
Migrants have been reliant on volunteers to pass them drinking water, food, sanitation and medical supplies through slats in the secondary border wall. At night, they sleep on the ground in the cold and rain. In the day, there is no refuge from the wind and sun. Many migrants have fallen into medical distress because of the conditions, and CBP has been slow to provide access to medical attention, often only responding at the insistence of advocates. As a result, one woman suffered life threatening allergies, a child suffered an epileptic seizure, and a man suffered an unattended infection on his leg (see images below).
If CBP detains people, they are responsible for their well-being. CBP is indisputably detaining people, controlling their movements and identifying them with wristbands that mark their length in custody. The man below had been detained for 4 days at the time the picture was taken and was freezing and starving (see below).
The complaint filed by SBCC includes photos and details of the cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment, which violates U.S. custody standards and international human rights obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), a treaty signed and ratified by the United States in 1992.
SBCC calls on CRCL to ensure that the violations cease and are not allowed to reoccur in California or anywhere else along the border.
Read full complaint here.
ABOUT THE SOUTHERN BORDER COMMUNITIES COALITION
The Southern Border Communities Coalition (SBCC) brings together organizations from San Diego, California to Brownsville, Texas, to ensure that border enforcement policies and practices are accountable and fair, respect human dignity and human rights, and prevent the loss of life in the region.