NewsTeam 10 Investigates


Calls for CBP to change detention polices

Posted at 5:27 PM, Dec 18, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-18 21:22:01-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - A San Diego Congressman is responding to a Team 10 investigation that uncovered claims the government is not providing sufficient medical care to people in its custody.

Court documents uncovered by Team 10 claim a man was arrested at the border then held for nearly three days in a potentially dangerous medical state.

According to court documents, "Mr. Centeno was kept in a small cell where the lights were on the entire time. Mr. Centeno was not given a change of clothes during the nearly three days while he was at the Port of Entry. The cell where Mr. Centeno was held did not have a bed, and Mr. Centeno was given a thin foil blanket and a torn yoga mat to lie on. There was no soap, no toothbrush, and no hygiene products."

RELATED: Members of Congress respond to Team 10 Border Detox Investigation

In a statement to 10News Congressman Scott Peters wrote, "CBP's continued violation of DHS policy is unacceptable. Part of the supplemental funding I voted to support this summer included crucial funding for medical care for migrants. The funding was intended to remedy these instances of deficient care and we will hold the Department accountable if it's not being used correctly. In the coming weeks, my staff will meet with the head of CBP's San Diego Field Office to demand a stop to this behavior. No person should have to endure this level of pain and suffering at the hands of federal law enforcement officials, so we will continue to press the Department until appropriate changes are made."

The ACLU of San Diego and Imperial Counties is also calling for changes to the way CBP provides medical care.

A letter from the organization to the Executive Assistant Commissioner CBP Office of Field Operations stated, "Over the past few months, multiple reported instances indicate that U.S. Customs and Border Protection ("CBP") is knowingly denying access to medical care to persons in CBP custody at the San Ysidro port of entry while these individuals detoxify from a variety of controlled substances, including prescribed medications. CBP's failure to provide detained individuals with medical supervision during this process puts these individuals at risk of serious injury or death."

RELATED: Claim: Government is not providing adequate medical care to people in its custody

The letter pointed out that when CBP deprives detainees of emergency and other necessary medical care, the agency violates its policies.

The ACLU of San Diego and Imperial Counties requested CBP revise and strengthen its policies surrounding: reasonable accommodations, medical staff, and facilities at the Port of Entry, intake and medical screening procedures, length of detention, and written policies.

"It's not rocket science, there should be trained medical staff to ensure that people who are undergoing any kind of medical emergency, including detoxification but not limited to detoxification, have access to a trained medical official as opposed to a law enforcement officer," said staff attorney Mitra Ebadolahi.

The letter stated, "These individuals' experiences are not outliers, but part of a long list of recent cases that show that many similarly situated individuals detained at the San Ysidro POE face similar risks. The ACLU and undersigned organizations urge CBP to reform their deficient practices and adopt the following improved policies to safeguard detainees."