Freezing cells and sleep deprivation: the brutal conditions migrants still face after capture

In a week of outcry over the Senate’s report on CIA torture, human rights groups say harsh treatment of migrants still meted out the on US border


“Josefina Peralta made the gruelling journey from her home in Honduras to Texasin May, venturing a perilous crossing of the Rio Grande River and passing across the US border at night in search of safety, opportunity and a new life. Within hours of making the crossing, she was picked up along with her infant daughter and four other women by officers of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and taken to a temporary holding station in a rural area outside McAllen.

Peralta (not her real name) was put into a 15ft by 45ft concrete cell with about 30 other migrants from Central America who had made the similar dangerous and traumatic journey. Her clothes were still wet from crossing the river, but according to the account she gave human rights researchers, CBP officers wouldn’t let her change into the dry clothes she had ready in her backpack.

The cell was a “cold box”, she said, and she and her child shivered on the concrete floor. She reported losing sense of time, as there were no windows in the border station where they were being held.

She was detained in the border station for two nights and two days, by her estimation, then flown to the Tucson border station, where she was held for a further seven days. There she and her daughter were again put into a cell so cold that her lips chapped, she developed a cough and eventually contracted a fever that led to a brief hospitalisation.”

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