Border Patrol Detention Centers Violate Civil Rights, Judge Says
Citing a civil rights violation, a federal judge indicated his plans to order Border Patrol to improve sleeping conditions for detainees at its detention centers in Arizona.
Immigrants at these centers are forced to sleep on cold concrete floors they refer to as “hierleras,” or iceboxes.
U.S. District Court Judge David C. Bury, who is presiding over the lawsuit filed on behalf of three former detainees, said the conditions must be improved, Tucson.com reports.
A federal hearing on the issue began Monday, and U.S. District Court Judge David C. Bury said he has “concerns” about the court filings.
“The deprivation of sleep, at the very least, in this case is a violation of the civil rights of a civil detainee and that needs to be fixed,” Bury said at the hearing on Tuesday.
To stave off the heat, agents provide every detainee with a mylar survival blanket to trap their body heat while they sleep, said Assistant Chief Patrol Agent for the Tucson Sector George Allen. The agency tried providing cloth blankets years ago, but the laundry demand was too much for any local company.
Bury also mentioned that most detainees are forced to stay in these detention centers twice as long as the agency’s recommendation of 12 hours or less.
In defense, Border Patrol said it’s doing the best it can with limited resources.
The judge acknowledged the Border Patrol’s difficult job and limited budget, but would not excuse these conditions.
“The complexity of government operations cannot trump civil rights, neither can budgetary constraints,” Bury said.
The civil trial — which also deals with claims of poor food, frigid temperatures, and lack of access to medical care — is set to begin next summer.
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