U.S. Law Center

New standards set for how Border Patrol must treat detainees

A recent ruling sets new constitutional standards for how detainees in California and across the nation must be treated. Judge David C. Bury ruled that the U.S Border Patrol's Tucson detention facility must give all detainees a bed with a blanket, drinkable water, food, showers and medical assessment. The detainees also may not be held longer than 48 hours. The same judge had previously ruled that people who were being held longer than 12 hours had a physiological need to lie down and must be given a sleeping pad and a mylar blanket as well as a shower or body wipe.

The facilities are used to house people who are picked up by Border Patrol and held for transfer to another agency for removal, deportation, voluntary departure or another outcome. This ruling comes after a seven-day trial in January. People who had been held in the facility testified that they had been forced to sleep next to the toilet, a situation the judge found particularly offensive as it is degrading and unsanitary for those sleeping in the toilet area as well as those needing to use the toilet. Witnesses also testified to being denied food, medical care and showers.

The government argued that detention facilities are not prisons and are not required to provide showers, blankets or medical care. The judge noted that the detainees, including pregnant women and young children, have not been convicted of any crime, yet they are treated far worse than prisoners.

People who have been detained by Border Patrol, whether worried they may be deported, removed or asked to depart voluntarily, might benefit from the advice of a lawyer with experience in immigration law and deportation defense. An attorney may be able to help determine the best course of action for anyone facing deportation.

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