May 22, 2019

Senators Call on Red Cross, DHS to Investigate Conditions at Border Detention Facilities

Washington—Senators Dianne Feinstein and Kamala D. Harris (both D-Calif.) today joined with 22 other senators to call on the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Department of Homeland Security inspector general to immediately investigate conditions at Customs and Border Protection detention facilities on the southwest border after a fifth child died after being detained by CBP since December.

“We are deeply concerned that the overcrowded conditions at Border Patrol holding facilities are placing detained migrants at risk,” the senators wrote to the Red Cross. “The ICRC has played a critical role in ensuring that migrant detention facilities around the world comply with international human rights standards. We ask that you immediately launch an investigation into CBP’s facilities for detained migrants on the U.S. southwest border.”

Senators Feinstein and Harris were joined by Senators Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.) and Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.).

Full text of the letter to DHS Acting Inspector General John Kelly is available here.

Full text of the letter to the International Committee of the Red Cross is available here and below:

May 22, 2019

Dear Mr. Maurer:

We respectfully request that International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) immediately investigate the safety of Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Customs and Border Protection (CBP) detention facilities at the southwest United States border, in particular the conditions for minors, families, and other vulnerable individuals. We are deeply concerned that the overcrowded conditions at Border Patrol holding facilities are placing detained migrants at risk.

CBP’s current facilities are inadequate for the current volume of migrants being detained at the border. On May 8, CBP witnesses stated in testimony before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee:

Our short-term holding facilities were neither designed for the large volume of family units nor for long-term custody. We consider 4,000 detainees to be a high number of migrants in custody, and in the past had considered 6,000 detainees a crisis. In this fiscal year, CBP has already experienced more than 14,000 detainees in custody on a single day.

The ICRC has played a critical role in ensuring that migrant detention facilities around the world comply with international human rights standards. We ask that you immediately launch an investigation into CBP’s facilities for detained migrants on the U.S. southwest border.

Thank you for your time and consideration. We look forward to a prompt response.

Sincerely,

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