March 27, 2020

A complaint filed with the DHS Inspector-General by ACLU Texas and Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center raised concerns that, at its El Paso “Station 1” facility, Border Patrol had “failed to take even the most basic actions to prevent an outbreak of COVID-19 or mitigate the risk of harm to migrants, particularly the most vulnerable.”

Specifically, notwithstanding the threat from COVID-19, Border Patrol has in its El Paso Station 1 facility:

* Held over 150 persons in a single room with persons exhibiting flu-like symptoms;

* Failed to provide information to detained individuals on the COVID-19 pandemic, such as recommended Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines for preventing transmission of the virus; [1]

* Held people in cells where they are forced to be in close contact with each other, including by sleeping approximately three feet apart;

* Failed to provide detained individuals with sufficient soap. For example, migrants reported that in one bathroom, only one of six sinks had a soap dispenser that in fact contained soap;

* Provided only a single square of toilet paper per use;

* Denied detained individuals access to hand sanitizer;

* Failed to provide adequate medical screening of detained individuals no texhibiting symptoms of illness; and

* Failed to ensure uniform access to personal protective equipment for everyone in the detention facility.

— “Re: Border Patrol Station 1 in El Paso, Texas: Failure to Adequately Respond to COVID-19 Pandemic” (El Paso: ACLU of Texas, ACLU Border Rights Center, Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center, March 27, 2020): 169

Footnote from above:

[1] CDC, “Interim Guidance on Management of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Correctional and Detention Facilities,” March 23, 2020, available at detention/guidance-correctional-detention.html.

Sector(s): El Paso

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Conditions in Custody, Denial of Medical Care, Disregard of Public Health

Accountability Status: Shared with DHS OIG

Victim Classification: