Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Violates Human Rights at Open Air Detention Sites in California

Human rights organizations in San Diego, California, are responding to the inhumane conditions in which U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is detaining migrants in Open Air Detention Sites (OADS) along the US-Mexico border. The biggest law enforcement agency in the country is not providing any food, water, protection from the elements or medical attention to vulnerable migrants, including children, in their custody.

Here's a detailed timeline of events that exposed the harrowing conditions at Open Air Detention Sites in California:

April 2023:

Reports surface of migrants held in the precarious conditions between border walls west of San Ysidro Port Of Entry in San Diego, California. Migrants endure long waits, sometimes spanning several days.

May 1, 2023:

The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) spoked with migrants who had been detained for 5 days in-between border walls who resorted to eating leaves found on the hillside. 

May 8, 2023:

Growing concerns prompted members of Congress to send an inquiry into CBP questioning their handling of the situation as the number of migrants detained grew. 

May 12, 2023:

The Southern Border Communities Coalition issued a public alert bringing attention to the human rights violations at the Open Air Detention Sites (OADS). 

May 14, 2023:

The Southern Border Communities Coalition files a complaint with the Department of Homeland Security Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL) office urging an investigation into the violations of CBP’s in-custody standards at the OADS. 

May 15, 2023:

The U.S. Immigration Policy Center (USIPC) at the University of California San Diego releases a damning report, highlighting findings from a survey conducted among migrants detained in OADS in Jacumba, California. 

May 19, 2023: 

The New York Times reports on the dire situation unfolding at the OADS in Jacumba, CA. 

May 17, 2023: 

AFSC reports on the documentation of human rights observers and the solidarity efforts underway at the Open Air Detention Site known as Whiskey 8. 

July 12, 2023:

In a startling denial, CBP denies claims of holding migrants in custody between border walls, despite mounting evidence suggesting otherwise.

July 18, 2023:

U.S. Representative Robert Garcia (CA) demanded answers from CBP officials about the conditions at the OADS in California during a congressional hearing. 

October 2, 2023: 

AFSC released a detailed report on the mobilization of community members and organizations to aid migrants held in Whiskey 8.

October 11, 2023

Migrant woman dies after waiting to be processed at the Open Air Detention Site known as Whiskey 4 near San Ysidro. According to reports, the Guinean woman suffered a medical emergency and was pronounced dead at a local hospital. The incident was investigated by CBP’s Office of Professional Responsibility. Inhumane conditions continue

November 15, 2023

Report details two months of humanitarian aid at Open Air Detention Sites. 

December 11, 2023 

Advocates file a second administrative complaint demanding accountability for grossed human rights violations at Open Air Detention sites. 

February 29, 2024

A federal court filing as part of Flores Settlement Agreement, demanded an immediate end to CBP’s practice of detaining children in OADS, citing unsafe and unsanitary conditions that violated CBP’s previously established standards. 

April 3, 2024

A federal court decision affirms that children held in Open Air Detention Sites (OADS) are indeed under the custody of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), confirming what SBCC and partners have documented for nearly a year.


Sign up now to receive more stories like these in your inbox.



Privacy Policy / Terms & Conditions

Southern Border Communities Coalition is a program of Alliance San Diego.


Sign in with Facebook, Twitter or email.

Created with NationBuilder