Media Contact

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

May 17, 2019

MCALLEN, Texas – The American Civil Liberties Union of Texas and the ACLU Border Rights Center today filed an administrative complaint concerning the mistreatment of migrants detained at Rio Grande Valley Border Patrol facilities.

Attorneys with the ACLU interviewed detained asylum seekers, including families and small children, who reported harassment from federal agents and prolonged detention in unsheltered overcrowded spaces. Those interviewed reported being forced to remain for multiple nights in outdoor detention facilities on muddy and rocky ground and in harsh weather conditions, and receiving inadequate medical care for sick children. Reports of abuse also include agents kicking individuals who fell asleep and threatening families with separation.

“We are shining a light on the atrocious actions by U.S. Border Patrol and we are demanding action,” said Rochelle Garza, staff attorney for the ACLU of Texas. “The way these migrants are being treated by agents violates not only their civil rights but basic human rights. Forcing children to sleep outdoors on rocks without protection from extreme weather shows that the agency is not upholding our American values. We urge the agency to immediately fix these injustices.”

The complaint, sent to officials within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, calls for an immediate end to the outdoor detention of migrants and for an investigation into the conditions and treatment of those detained in the Rio Grande Valley sector.

“We are once again seeing U.S. Border Patrol for what it truly is—a rogue agency that cares little about the people in its custody,” said Shaw Drake, policy counsel for the ACLU Border Rights Center. “This administration will continue to cause severe harm to migrant families if they do not end these abuses.”

In addition to the complaint, the ACLU is requesting information from U.S. Customs and Border Protection for records concerning CBP’s detention facilities in the Rio Grande Valley sector.

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