Today, Rep. Scott Peters (CA-52) voted for H.R. 3239, the Humanitarian Standards for Individuals in Customs and Border Protection Custody Act, which sets basic humanitarian standards of care for individuals in Customs and Border Protection (CBP) custody. In the past year, seven children have died in CBP custody as reports of overcrowded and unsanitary conditions surfaced. The bill requires basic health screening by a licensed medical professional within twelve hours of being detained by CBP, or three hours if the migrant is elderly or a child. It also requires a medical professional be present at CBP facilities or on call. If a child is being screened, an interpreter, or a parent or legal guardian must be present. Finally, the bill sets clear standards for nutrition, water, hygiene and sanitation, and shelter.
“I witnessed the extreme overcrowding and inhumane conditions first-hand during my recent trip to migrant detention facilities in Texas. Asylum seekers have made long and dangerous journeys to escape violence and persecution. They deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. And our CBP officers can’t be expected to perform jobs they aren’t trained for – they are not doctors and lack the expertise to prevent a public health crisis. It is in all of our interests to improve the conditions and standards of care at these facilities,” said Rep. Peters.
After Rep. Peters visited the Texas-Mexico border, he voted to strengthen U.S.-Northern Triangle relations. In June, Rep. Peters voted to pass an emergency spending bill to address the ongoing humanitarian crisis at the border. Rep. Peters also introduced legislation that would provide oversight should migrants be moved to military bases for housing, which was included in the National Defense Authorization Act.