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Imelda Mejia, ACLU of Texas, 346-299-6803, media@aclutx.org

August 20, 2019

BROWNSVILLE, Texas – The ACLU of Texas and the ACLU National Prison Project filed a legal brief requesting that a federal court order U.S. Customs and Border Protection to stop its practice of detaining migrants in deplorable conditions without access to an attorney. The friend of the court brief was filed in support of a class-action lawsuit challenging the conditions of those detained by CBP in south Texas.

The ACLU argues that:

  • CBP unlawfully prohibits detainees from contacting an attorney.
  • Attorneys and non-profit organizations are not allowed access to individuals and are unable to inform them of their rights or offer legal representation.
  • Migrants are held for weeks and in some cases months in facilities where CBP is only authorized to hold migrants for up to 72 hours.

“The Constitution applies to everyone in the United States, regardless of their immigration status,” said Andre Segura, legal director for the ACLU of Texas. “Detaining migrants for absurdly long periods in deplorable facilities meant only to hold people for a few days – while also denying their ability to obtain counsel to challenge this mistreatment – is a fundamental miscarriage of justice. The court must either put a stop to these ongoing constitutional and human rights violations or order CBP to release migrants from these facilities.”

The brief includes images from the Office of Inspector General report warning the Department of Homeland Security of the need to immediately alleviate the “dangerous overcrowding and prolonged detention of children and adults” in immigration detention facilities in the Rio Grande Valley. The OIG conducted an investigation into the facilities following complaints filed by the ACLU regarding the mistreatment of migrants.

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