San Diego

UC San Diego Study Highlights Conditions at Migrant Shelters Along Border

The study found 62 percent of shelters had issues including lack of food or clean water

A new UC San Diego research study found that physical and verbal abuse are commonplace inside migrant detention centers along the U.S.-Mexico border.

The study found 62 percent of shelters had issues including lack of food or clean water. The data comes from more than 7,000 asylum-seeking families who were interviewed when they arrived in San Diego in between October 2018 and June 2019.

According to the data, 35 percent of them reported not having access to a clean bathroom or being able to brush their teeth. The study also found that one out of every three experienced mistreatment and sub-standard conditions while held in detention facilities.

The ACLU of San Diego and Imperial Counties worked with the San Diego Rapid Response Network to collect data from migrant families once they arrived at shelters provided by the Jewish Family Service of San Diego.

UC San Diego social scientists from the U.S. Immigration Policy Center analyzed intake questionnaires given to the migrants. Dr. Tom Wong told us his team found 200 cases of verbal abuse to migrants and 40 examples of physical abuse.

“Being thrown against the wall by an immigration agent for simply trying to get a drink of water,” Wong explained, referring to an example of that abuse.

Wong said migrants were also given food that didn’t meet basic nutrition standards.

Language access was another issue that plagued detainees. Researchers said the majority of families are indigenous speakers and not Spanish speakers.

“The language families spoke versus the language of documents received really raises a due process issue,” Wong said.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection told NBC 7 they have a language translation service when processing detainees.

An ICE spokesperson said the agency would not comment on the results of an independent analysis of data the agency has not reviewed or seen.

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