Following Deaths of Migrant Children, Rep. Lofgren and House Democrats Introduce Bill to Improve Inhumane Conditions at Southern Border

June 13, 2019
Press Release
Legislation Would Help Save Lives by Ensuring Migrants in U.S. Custody Have Safe Drinking Water, Food to Eat, and Proper Medical Attention

Washington, D.C.—Today, in a press conference at the U.S. Capitol, Rep. Zoe Lofgren—Chair of the House Judiciary's Subcommittee on Immigration and Citizenship—joined Democrats to announce legislation that would help save lives and improve the conditions of migrant children and families in U.S. custody at the southern border. Rep. Lofgren was joined today by Congressman Raul Ruiz, M.D. (D-CA), Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD), Assistant Leader Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM), Hispanic Caucus Chairman Joaquin Castro (D-TX), Dr. Olanrewaju Falusi of the American Academy of Pediatrics, and Sister Quincy Howard of the Church World Service.

"Children are tragically dying in U.S. custody at the border and Congress must intervene to stop it," Rep. Lofgren said. "This important piece of legislation would help ensure that every person held at our border has their most basic needs met, including clean water, healthy food, and adequate shelter."

House Democrats introduced the Humanitarian Standards for Individuals in Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Custody Act following the recent deaths of migrant children who were being held by CBP. This tragedy underscores the severity of the humanitarian crisis at the southern border as well as the unacceptable conditions migrants face while being held in CBP facilities, which are understaffed and underequipped to hold and process the thousands of people who cross the southern U.S. border each day. This has resulted in children and families being subject to extended detentions, gross overcrowding, freezing temperatures, and sleeping on floors, among other inhumane conditions. The legislation announced today would alleviate this by requiring:

  • CBP facilities to maintain the personnel and equipment necessary to conduct health screenings for every person in its custody and provide emergency care as needed;
  • Those in CBP custody to have access to clean drinking water; a private, safe, clean, and reliable toilet with proper waste disposal; and the handwashing station and products necessary to maintain basic, personal hygiene;
  • Those in CBP’s custody to receive the proper nutrition they need relative to their age, weight, and height ratio, including special dietary needs for the elderly, babies, and women who are pregnant or breastfeeding; and
  • CBP facilities to meet minimum standards for temperature, space, and bedding provided.

Among the organizations that have endorsed this bill is the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Medical Association, American Psychological Association, American Public Health Association, Kids in Need of Defense, Public Health Institute, and Physicians for Human Rights.

Rep. Lofgren has served as the Chair of the House Judiciary's Subcommittee on Immigration and Citizenship since 2007. She has long fought to ensure that the United States remains a beacon of freedom and hope for all people across the world. She is the granddaughter of immigrants and has taught immigration law at the Santa Clara School of Law. Earlier this month, Rep. Lofgren was instrumental in helping the Dream Act have the votes necessary to pass the House.