Federal judge orders photos of immigration detention facilities be released

Overruling the pleas of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), which told the court unsealing documents could compromise both immigrant privacy and the mission of law enforcement, Senior United States District Judge David C. Bury ordered the release of documents related to a class-action lawsuit concerning the conditions at immigrant detention centers in Arizona.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of immigrants by the American Immigration Council, the National Immigration Law Center and other immigration advocates.

In his ruling, Judge Bury cited “vague” arguments advanced by the CBP and ordered the partial release of CBP inspection reports detailing conditions in eight immigration centers in southern Arizona.  The reports include specifics of inadequate lighting, air conditioning units and surveillance cameras which do not function and inoperable video in holding rooms.

Included in the release of documents are photographic evidence of unhygienic living quarters, showers and toilets taken by immigrants and provided to plaintiffs’ attorneys, Morrison & Foerster LLP.

The suit also alleges detainees were subject to cold and were sleep deprived.

Attorney Nora Preciado of the National Immigration Law Center described the conditions:

We think it is important for the public to see how the government is running these facilities, the conditions they are subjecting all these immigrants to, and the government continues to fight. Basically, we have precedent for this. In other instances where civil detainees are held in similar conditions, the courts have said, ‘You can’t make people sleep on the ground’ [and] ‘You can’t keep people without a clean facility, not provide them adequate food, water, basic things such as soap, access to showers, some of these immigrants are being held up to four or five days, without access to a bed, blankets, shower.’” 

Judge Bury informed the CBP it must provide stronger, more detailed arguments to disallow remaining documents from being released.

 

[RT News] [mofo.com] [Photo courtesy Gannett]