On April 6, 2022, Americans for Immigrant Justice (AIJ), Kids in Need of Defense (KIND), Immigrant Defenders Law Center (ImmDef), and Florence Immigrant & Refugee Rights Project (FIRRP) filed separate administrative complaints with the Department of Homeland Security Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (DHS CRCL) and the DHS Office of Inspector General (DHS OIG) about the treatment of unaccompanied children in Customs and Border Protection (CBP) custody in 2021. The organizations condemned CBP for violations of the Flores Settlement Agreement and the CBP National Standards on Transport, Escort, Detentions and Search (TEDS).
The complaints highlighted the sleeping conditions and the freezing temperatures in the facilities, the lack of water and food, the lack of access to personal hygiene, the inadequate medical care and the verbal and physical abuse by CBP officers. The complaints include stories of several minors who detail aspects of their treatment while in detention by CBP.
As shared by AIJ, 12-year-old N.A.E. was told “he would be reunited with his mother in the United States,” only to be illegally returned to Guatemala without his knowledge or consent. C.C.L., age 10, “had his mattress taken away,” which CBP did “if they felt someone was misbehaving.” At age 15, K.G.C. had to share a mattress with three other girls while detained, during which she contracted lice.
These stories, and others shared in the complaints, illustrate the inhumane conditions affecting the health and safety of children while in CBP custody. The administrative complaints contain recommendations for preventing CBP’s abuse of children. These recommendations include: CBP adherence to the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVRPA), to the CBP National Standards on TEDS, and to the Flores settlement agreement; providing comparable care to that of Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) facilities; additional training for CBP officers and staff; access to legal counsel; and the hiring and use of child welfare professionals.
Counsel: Americans for Immigrant Justice; Kids in Need of Defense (KIND)
Contact: Jennifer Anzardo | firstname.lastname@example.org | Carley Sessions | email@example.com