Southern Border — The Southern Border Communities Coalition (SBCC) is alerting the public to egregious human rights violations by U.S. border agents. Currently, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents are holding hundreds of migrants in deplorable conditions on U.S. soil between layers of the border wall in San Diego, California near the San Ysidro Port of Entry. The U.S. border wall with Mexico in San Diego is composed of two layers, a primary and secondary border wall. Both the primary and secondary border walls, and the areas in between them, are part of the United States. The migrants in that corridor are in CBP custody.
Border Patrol is holding individuals in custody in the open air for days in violation of CBP Transport, Escort, Detention and Search standards (TEDS) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Hundreds of migrants including women, children, and elderly people from around the world are being detained on U.S. soil without shelter and without access to adequate food, water, and sanitation.
Specifically, the Southern Border Communities Coalition (SBCC) confirms the following:
- Between 300-400 migrants are currently being held in custody in a corridor between layers of the border wall near San Ysidro
- Many if not most having been detained over 72 hours, and some for a week
- At-risk populations are among those detained, including LGBTQ migrants, pregnant people, children, and infants under one year old
- Border agents have only given migrants single small water bottles and a granola bar
- Border agents are not providing blankets for migrants, leaving young children and pregnant migrants vulnerable to the cold
- Border agents have only provided one port-a-potty that is inadequate for the hundreds of migrants and is often unusable
- Border agents have not provided for adequate sanitation, including trash cans and waste removal
- Border agents have not provided any personal hygiene items — no water to wash hands, no soap, no diapers for babies, no feminine hygiene products
- Border agents are not acknowledging their responsibilities to migrants in their custody; instead asserting they are not in custody despite migrants being subject to their complete control
CBP TEDS standards dictate that migrants should be provided regular meals and water, sanitary restroom facilities, access to personal hygiene items, and clean bedding. CBP’s own detention standards also call for not detaining individuals in short-term custody for longer than 72 hours. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), an international treaty which the United States has ratified and is thus binding domestic law, further provides that “[n]o one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.” The ICCPR further states that, “All persons deprived of their liberty shall be treated with humanity and with respect for the inherent dignity of the human person.” That is not happening.
The conditions SBCC has observed show that Border Patrol is violating both its own standards on detention (TEDS) and binding international law by holding individuals in deplorable conditions in the corridor between the layers of the border wall near the San Ysidro Port of Entry.
SBCC calls on the U.S. Government to avert further violations of law by immediately complying with international and domestic custody standards, and providing asylum seekers full due process. The United States can be a beacon for human rights, but our current treatment of migrants at the border falls short of U.S. law and our international commitments.
Those seeking safety at our border should be treated at all times with humanity, and the current situation near the San Ysidro Port of Entry is an emergency that needs to be addressed immediately. Lives are at stake. SBCC will imminently file a formal complaint to all of the bodies that oversee CBP and its compliance with custody standards, including the Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General, and the Office of Civil Liberties and Civil Rights. We urge these oversight bodies to act immediately to address human rights violations and uphold U.S. and international law. Rather than humanize migrants, CBP is currently penalizing them for asserting their inalienable (human) rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Instead, we must refocus on human dignity.
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.