Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Images Show Crowded, Dirty Border Patrol Cells in Ariz

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Images Show Crowded, Dirty Border Patrol Cells in Ariz

Article excerpt

TUCSON, Ariz. - Images filed as evidence in a lawsuit against the U.S. Border Patrol citing inhumane conditions in Arizona detention facilities show men jammed together under a thin thermal blanket trying to stay warm and a woman using a concrete floor strewn with trash to change a baby's diaper. The photos made public Thursday are from cell surveillance video inside least four Border Patrol stations.

They were submitted late Wednesday in a lawsuit against the Border Patrol for conditions described as disgusting in the agency's Tucson sector, which makes up most of Arizona.

The National Immigration Law Center and the ACLU argued in court that the images should be made public to help prove allegations that the Border Patrol routinely holds immigrants in extremely cold and dirty cells.

Government lawyers representing the Border Patrol argued for the photos and other documents to be kept from public view, saying their release would violate privacy rights of migrants and Border Patrol and could raise security concerns.

The faces of people that show up in the images that were released were blacked out. Pictures made public in June showed rusty toilets, dirty toilet paper on the floor and a malfunctioning water fountain in the detention areas. Another image released Thursday showed a child crawling on a cell's concrete floor.

Some of the most troubling photos showed children sitting around trash, said Nora Preciado, a staff attorney for the National Immigration Law Center. Others showed empty cells filled with sleeping mats while nearby cells had people in them but no mats.

The images also showed more than 20 men crammed into one cell, covering themselves with thin thermal blankets made of extremely thin material.

"I have visited many detention facilities in my 11 years as an attorney and I have to say what the Border Patrol facilities look like really is deplorable and disgusting, Preciado said. …

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