Immigrant Rights Groups Demand Accountability

Immigrant Rights Groups Demand Accountability for ‘Gross Violations of Human Rights’ at Open-Air Detention Sites at U.S.-Mexico Border

Federal Complaint Details Dangerous Conditions for Asylum Seekers Forcefully Held Outdoors Without Adequate Food, Water, or Medical Care for Several Hours to Days

Seven immigrant rights organizations lodged an urgent federal complaint this week against the Department of Homeland Security Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL) and its Customs and Border Protection (CBP) for violating their own custody standards for asylum seekers being held in several open-air detention sites along the U.S.-Mexico border in California. For several months, Border Patrol officers have forced asylum seekers to wait outdoors for several hours or days between sections of the San Diego border walls and other open-air sites in the Jacumba desert where they aren’t allowed to leave and don’t have adequate access to water, food, sanitation, medical care, or protection from the elements.

The 88-page complaint was filed by the Center for Gender and Refugee Studies (CGRS), International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP), and National Immigration Law Center (NILC) on behalf of Al Otro LadoAmerican Friends Service Committee (AFSC), Border Kindness, and Southern Border Communities Coalition (SBCC). This is a second federal complaint filed against the CRCL for violations of human rights for its practices at the open-air detention sites, following a complaint filed by SBCC on May 13, 2023, shortly after the violations were first documented. However, the inhumane conditions at the open-air detention sites have not changed and are spreading to other sites along the southern border.

In the subsequent months, at least one person has tragically died while trapped in an open-air detention site, and conditions are expected to deteriorate as winter weather intensifies, further endangering those exposed to the elements.

“It is unconscionable that Border Patrol agents force asylum seeking migrants to wait for hours and days in dangerous conditions,” said Pedro Rios, Director of the American Friends Service Committee’s US-Mexico Border Program. “In San Diego, one person in a medically vulnerable state has already died at an open-air detention site. Community members and human rights organizations have been left to provide basic care, including food and water, to thousands seeking shelter and asylum in the United States.”

– NNIRR Board member

To read the full statement click here.