/ Modified oct 29, 2014 5:08 p.m.

Group: Border Patrol Violated Human Rights of Immigrants in Detention

New report says Central American women, children in Tucson were kept in unsanitary conditions.


A report by health aid workers alleges undocumented migrants are kept in unsanitary conditions and experience human rights violations in the Border Patrol's short-term detention cells.

“Inhumane and degrading conditions were documented for immigrants held in nine short-term Department of Homeland Security facilities located throughout Southern Arizona in the summer of 2014,” the report said.

Deprivation not Deterrence” was prepared by the Guatemala Acupuncture and Medical Aid Project, an organization that works with people in Guatemala and with Central American migrants.

“We took the point of view of a health organization of what happens to people in short-term detention,” said Blake Gentry, author of the report.

The study is a result of interviews with 33 adult migrants, most of them women from Central America. More than 80 percent of mothers said their children were not adequately fed and fell ill after spending time in extremely cold rooms.

“A preschool age girl who urinated in her pants was not allowed to change them, only the diaper underneath, subjecting her and all others in the cell to the stench of urine,” according to the report.

Detainees were often exposed to fecal matter in, what the report said, were overcrowded holding rooms.

“No water, insufficient amounts of water, or undrinkable water were reported by nearly 80 percent of immigrants,” according to the report.

Border Patrol officials wrote in a statement that the agency will not comment on the report because it has not been thoroughly reviewed.

“What we will say is that Customs and Border Protection is committed to ensuring that the agency is able to execute its challenging missions while preserving the human rights and dignity of those with whom we come in contact,” the statement said. “All allegations of misconduct are taken seriously and, if warranted, referred for appropriate investigative and/or disciplinary action to be taken."

Human rights organizations have released similar reports in the past, documenting what they call mistreatment of immigrants while in custody of federal immigration officials.

The report released Wednesday focused on the influx of women and children in Tucson this year. From October 2013 to September 2014, the Border Patrol’s Tucson sector apprehended 3,812 family units, a 45 percent increase from the previous year, according to CBP data.

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