Complaint filed on behalf of asylum seekers at RGV detention facilities

FILE - In this March 14, 2019, file photo, families who crossed the nearby U.S.-Mexico border near McAllen, Texas are placed in a Border Patrol vehicle. U.S. border authorities say they’ve started to increase the biometric data they take from children 13 years of age and younger, including fingerprints, despite privacy concerns and government policy intended to restrict what can be collected from migrant youth. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)

The American Civil Liberties Union of Texas and the ACLU Border Rights Center filed an administrative complaint related to the mistreatment of migrants at U.S. Border Patrol facilities in the Rio Grande Valley, according to a news release.

The complaint, sent to officials within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, calls for an immediate end to the outdoor detention of migrants and for an investigation into the conditions and treatment of those detained in the RGV sector.

Click here to read the complaint.

The complaint comes after ACLU attorneys interviewed detained asylum seekers, including families and children, who reported harassment from federal agents and prolonged detention in unsheltered overcrowded spaces, the release stated.

The ACLU states that those interviewed reported being forced to remain for multiple nights in outdoor detention facilities on muddy and rocky ground and in harsh weather conditions, and receiving inadequate medical care for sick children.

“Reports of abuse also include agents kicking individuals who fell asleep and threatening families with separation,” the news release stated.

“We are shining a light on the atrocious actions by U.S. Border Patrol and we are demanding action,” Rochelle Garza, a staff attorney for the ACLU of Texas, said.

“The way these migrants are being treated by agents violates not only their civil rights but basic human rights. Forcing children to sleep outdoors on rocks without protection from extreme weather shows that the agency is not upholding our American values. We urge the agency to immediately fix these injustices.”

Shaw Drake, policy counsel for the ACLU Border Rights Center, said the interviews with the detainees show that Border Patrol has little regard for those in their custody.

“We are once again seeing U.S. Border Patrol for what it truly is — a rogue agency that cares little about the people in its custody,” Drake said. “This administration will continue to cause severe harm to migrant families if they do not end these abuses.”

In addition to the complaint, the ACLU is requesting information from U.S. Customs and Border Protection for records concerning CBP’s detention facilities in the Valley sector, the release stated.