Newsletter  |  Fall 2013
Vol. 17, Issue No. 4

AI Justice continues its campaign to advocate for improved conditions for individuals held in U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) custody, and, in particular, to end abusive conditions in CBP “hieleras.”

AI Justice staff attorneys visit immigrant detention centers on a regular basis and have interviewed more than one hundred immigrant women and children who were subjected to inhumane treatment while in CBP custody. Women describe being locked in freezing cold, over-crowded concrete rooms for as long as three weeks.  These cells have no beds, mattresses, blankets, or chairs. Lights are left on around the clock. As many as sixty women were forced to share a single toilet located in an open corner of the room. The women were not given a change of clothes, were not allowed to shower or bathe, and were deprived of the most basic personal hygiene items like a toothbrush, soap, and comb.  All felt coerced into signing documents waiving their legal rights.

In addition to the Federal Tort Claims Actions that AI Justice has filed on behalf of eight of these women, we continue to seek an end to these practices through legislation. In September, Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard introduced a bill focusing on CBP practices, which includes language similar to that in Senate Amendment 1260.  Senate Amendment 1260 was the result of AI Justice’s work with Senator Barbara Boxer’s office and was introduced in the summer as an amendment to the Senate immigration bill.  Rep. Roybal-Allard’s Protect Family Values at the Border Act would require CBP to uphold basic minimum standards of care, such as ensuring adequate nutrition, appropriate climate, and medical care for detainees.  AI Justice will continue its multi-faceted efforts to end these human rights abuses at the border.