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

Photo by Peter O'Dowd

Above: About 65 people a day move through this Border Patrol station in Nogales, Ariz.

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

U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer has introduced a bill that would require U.S. Customs and Border Protection to set standards for holding people in short-term custody.

The bill would require the U.S. Homeland Security secretary 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 American Civil Liberties Union 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.”

Sen. 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.

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