Border Patrol Lockups Called Inhumane

BROOKLYN (CN) - U.S. Customs and Border Patrol in Texas imprison immigrants for long periods in frigid rooms "so crowded that the detainees have no space to lie down," with no mattresses, no medical care and no access to basic hygiene, a former prisoner claims in court.
     Alba Quiñonez Flores sued the United States in Federal Court.
     "The torts plaintiff suffered arose from CBP's negligent operation of substandard holding facilities located within stations falling under CBP's Rio Grande Valley Sector," the complaint states. "The facilities, which are designed as temporary holding rooms, have come to be known as 'hieleras,' the Spanish word for 'freezers.' CBP agents and detainees alike have come to call these facilities hieleras because of the frigid temperatures at which the holding facilities are maintained.
     "CBP operates its hieleras in a manner its agents know or have reason to know places the detainees kept therein at unreasonable risk of physical and psychological harm. Apart from the frigid temperatures, detainees in the hieleras are routinely denied adequate meals, access to clean drinking water, and to basic hygiene products such as soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste, and sanitary napkins. The hieleras are often so crowded that the detainees have no space to lie down when kept overnight. Detainees are denied mattresses and bedding, and are left to sleep on the cold concrete floor with bright overhead lights left on throughout the night. Moreover, detainees with serious medical conditions are denied adequate treatment, and those with chronic conditions are denied access to medically necessary prescription medications they carry with them at the time of their apprehension.
     "Though the hieleras are designated for short term custody, CBP routinely detains individuals for days and sometimes weeks in substandard conditions."
     Quiñonez, A Salvadoran seeking political asylum, seeks damages under the Federal Tort Claims Act for negligence, negligent supervision and intentional infliction of emotional distress. She is represented by David K.S. Kim of Flushing, N.Y.