Recent revelations have surfaced, exposing the shocking and inhumane conditions faced by asylum seekers at the hands of Customs and Border Protection (CBP). A federal complaint, filed by seven immigrant rights organizations, accuses CBP of grossly neglecting the basic needs of those seeking refuge in the United States. This alarming situation, a blatant violation of CBP’s custody standards, has drawn strong condemnation from immigrant rights groups.
The complaint, an extensive 88-page document, highlights the plight of asylum seekers who are forced to endure long waits outdoors, often for hours or even days, without access to necessities such as water, food, sanitation, medical care, or protection from harsh weather conditions. Jacqueline Arellano, director of USA Programs for Border Kindness, poignantly articulates the gravity of the situation: “Border Patrol is reacting with deliberate negligence… The practice of open-air detention must be discontinued immediately to end this mass suffering.”
These conditions are not isolated incidents but are part of a disturbing trend spreading across various sites along the southern border. Linda Evarts, senior supervising attorney at the International Refugee Assistance Project, stresses the unacceptable nature of these actions, saying, “There is simply no excuse for this shocking and inhumane treatment of people seeking safety.”
Tragically, the consequences of such negligence have already proven fatal. A 29-year-old asylum seeker from Guinea lost their life while trapped in one of these open-air detention sites. This tragedy underscores the urgency of the situation and the need for immediate action.
The complaint also sheds light on the CBP’s failure to respond adequately to medical emergencies and provide necessary care, sufficient food and water, or even basic restroom facilities. This dereliction of duty has left human rights organizations and volunteers to fill the void, providing food, water, blankets, tarps, translation services, clothing, medicine, diapers, and hygiene products to the thousands of people in dire need.
Pedro Rios, director of the American Friends Service Committee’s US-Mexico Border Program, expresses his dismay, stating, “It is unconscionable that Border Patrol agents force asylum-seeking migrants to wait for hours and days in dangerous conditions.”
The situation calls into question the accountability of CBP and its commitment to protecting human rights and dignity. Lilian Serrano, director of the Southern Border Communities Coalition, emphasizes the broader implications: “Once again, Customs and Border Protection is sidestepping accountability… Exposing migrants to the elements in the middle of winter with no food or water for days is beyond inhumane — it’s appalling, and CBP must end this now.”
As the story unfolds, it’s a stark reminder of the urgent need for reforms in immigration practices and policies. The plight of asylum seekers at the hands of CBP is not just a violation of standards; it’s a humanitarian crisis that demands immediate attention and action.