Sen. Boxer Introduces Bill To Improve Short-Term Detention At Borders

By Jill Replogle
December 12, 2013

California Senator Barbara Boxer has introduced a bill designed to set minimum standards for holding people in short-term custody at the nation’s borders.

The bill would require the Secretary of Homeland Security to establish minimum standards for detention facilities run by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

The proposed standards would address access to food, drinking water and bathrooms, and accommodations for pregnant women and people with disabilities. They would also address what the bill refers to as “adequate climate control.”

The Fronteras Desk and Center for Investigative Reporting recently looked into complaints about freezing temperatures inside Border Patrol holding cells. Some detainees claim they’ve suffered psychological and physical harm while in custody at border stations.

James Lyall, an ACLU attorney who focuses on border issues, said people in CBP short term custody are sometimes denied access to attorneys, phone calls, food and water “for days on end.”

Senator Boxer’s office acknowledged in a news release that CBP does have written standards for short-term custody, but said "there is evidence to suggest that these standards are not consistently followed."

California Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Los Angeles) introduced a similar bill in the House in September.