Following Death of Fifth Child, Menendez, Booker, Colleagues Call for an Immediate Investigation into Detention Facilities

Following Death of Fifth Child, Menendez, Booker, Colleagues Call for an Immediate Investigation into Detention Facilities

The Senators are calling on the International Committee of the Red Cross and DHS’s Acting Inspector General to immediately investigate detention facilities at the southwest border

  

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Bob Menendez and Cory Booker (both D-N.J.) joined 23 colleagues in calling on the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Acting Inspector General to immediately investigate DHS Customs and Border Protection (CBP) detention facilities at the southwest border, in particular the conditions for minors, family units, and other vulnerable individuals.  The letters come shortly after CBP announced the death of a teenager at a CBP facility, the fifth child since December to die after being apprehended by CBP.

“We are deeply concerned that the overcrowded conditions at Border Patrol holding facilities are placing detained migrants at risk,” the Senators wrote in a letter to Peter Maurer, President of the International Committee of 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.”

 Last week, 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.”

 Joining Senators Menendez, Booker on this letter are Senators Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Bob Casey (D-Penn.), 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.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), 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.

 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.[1]

 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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