PHOENIX - The Trump administration on Monday appealed a federal court order requiring the U.S. Border Patrol to provide beds, blankets, showers, quality food and medical evaluations to migrants held in many Arizona facilities longer than 48 hours.
In February, U.S. District Judge David C. Bury ruled in favor of migrants who sued nearly five years ago over what they called dangerously crowded and inhumane conditions in Arizona’s Tucson Sector, which covers most of the state.
Bury wrote that the Border Patrol and its parent agencies, including Customs and Border Protection, “administer a detention system that deprives detainees, who are held in CBP stations, Tucson Sector, longer than 48 hours, of conditions of confinement that meet basic human needs.”
The judge issued the final order last week, calling on the government to provide actual beds, not sleeping mats, and washable blankets, not the thin, foil-type ones provided now. It also requires that immigrants detained longer than two days get meals approved by a nutritionist and assessed by a doctor, nurse or other medical professionals.
Migrants have long decried conditions in Border Patrol facilities, now infamously known as hieleras, or iceboxes, filing the lawsuit in June 2015. Video shown during the January trial showed a man walking over body after body in an attempt to reach a bathroom. His cell was so crowded, migrants were sleeping in the bathrooms, too.
The government has long said that the facilities are meant for short-term stays and that immigrants only remain for extended periods when other agencies don’t have the capacity to take them in.
President Donald Trump’s administration didn’t list a reason for its appeal. But government attorneys argued in court that no constitutional violations had been proven and that the Border Patrol has taken steps to reduce time in custody. An attorney also said at trial that there wasn’t funding to build facilities with beds.
The order applies only to the Tucson Sector, which includes eight facilities where migrants are held before they are deported or transferred to Immigration and Customs Enforcement.