Americans for Immigrant Justice, Inc. v. CBP, et al. (Rio Grande Hieleras FOIA)

Americans for Immigrant Justice, Inc. v. CBP, et al.
No. 1:14-cv-20945 KMW (S.D. Fla. Filed Mar. 13, 2014)

Americans for Immigrant Justice, Inc. (AI Justice) has sued CBP and DHS under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) for their failure to produce any records in response to a request which sought records pertaining to CBP’s short-term detention policies and procedures, particularly as implemented in the Rio Grande Valley (Valley) in Texas.  In 2013, AI Justice interviewed over 100 individuals who had been detained in CBP holding cells in the Valley prior to being transferred to ICE detention in Miami.  These individuals uniformly reported deplorable conditions in the holding cells. They reported that Border Patrol agents refer to the cells as “hieleras,” which is Spanish for “iceboxes.”  The agents use this term because they keep the temperatures in the cells unbearably low, so that the detainees always are extremely cold.  Additionally, the holding cells are overcrowded; have no beds, although most detainees reported being there at least several days, with some being held up to two weeks; have no bathing facilities and few toiletries; and have toilets that are out in the open.  The detainees also complained of being served inadequate food.  The AI Justice FOIA seeks records relating to these holding cells for the period 2008 through 2013.

CBP finally produced some responsive records, and the parties subsequently agreed to dismiss the case by stipulation on September 10, 2015.

Counsel: Americans for Immigrant Justice

Contact: Jennie Santos |