Senate Democrats request watchdog, International Red Cross probe DHS detention facilities

Senate Democrats request watchdog, International Red Cross probe DHS detention facilities
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Senate Democrats are requesting the Department of Homeland Security's top watchdog and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) probe detention facilities that house migrants near the southern border, after this week's death of an immigrant minor, the fifth since December.
Two dozen Democrats sent a letter to John KellyJohn Francis KellyMORE, the acting inspector general at DHS, saying they were "deeply concerned" that conditions at facilities overseen by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) were placing migrants at risk.
"We respectfully request that you immediately investigate Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Customs and Border Protection (CBP) detention facilities at the southwest border, in particular the conditions for minors, family units, and other vulnerable individuals," the senators wrote in the letter, which was spearheaded by Sen. Dick DurbinDick DurbinDemocrats go down to the wire with Manchin Overnight Health Care: Takeaways on the Supreme Court's Obamacare decision | COVID-19 cost 5.5 million years of American life | Biden administration investing billions in antiviral pills for COVID-19 COVID-19 long-haulers press Congress for paid family leave MORE (D-Ill.).
The senators added that they want Kelly's office to look into whether the detention facilities met the requirements under the Flores settlement, which requires that undocumented minor migrants are held "in facilities that are safe and sanitary and that are consistent with the [DHS’s] concern for the particular vulnerability of minors.”
They also want to know if DHS is complying with the requirement that minor migrants from countries other than Canada and Mexico must be transferred to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) within 72 hours.
Congress appropriated $414.7 million to CBP for fiscal year 2019 fiscal year for humanitarian efforts along the U.S.-Mexico border.
"We request that your investigation examine how these funds are being spent by CBP to address humanitarian needs at the border, including overcrowding, and whether these resources are being deployed quickly and effectively," the Democratic senators added.
The letter comes after CBP confirmed on Monday that a Guatemalan teenager died in U.S. custody, marking the fifth death of an immigrant minor at the southern border since December.
CBP said in a statement Tuesday that it would stop detaining migrants at the McAllen, Texas, center, where the teen was detained, after "a large number" of people in custody were found to have fallen ill with high fevers.

CBP has said it expects more than 500,000 migrants to cross the border in fiscal 2019, which began on Oct. 1.

DHS this month asked the Pentagon for further assistance at the U.S.-Mexico border, by providing support such as tents. Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan has said U.S. troops will remain at the border until it is deemed secure.

Democrats have seized on the detention facilities that are used to detain migrants along the U.S.-Mexico border, pushing for the administration to probe immigrant deaths. 
"Bring humanity to our border. Let us not do things with these people presenting themselves that don't speak well of our values and our reputation around the world. We can do better," Durbin said during a floor speech Tuesday.
In addition to requesting a DHS watchdog probe, Democrats also sent a letter to the ICRC asking for the organization to probe the safety of CBP detention facilities.

"The ICRC has played a critical role in ensuring that migrant detention facilities around the world comply with international human rights standards," the senators wrote. "We ask that you immediately launch an investigation into CBP’s facilities for detained migrants on the U.S. southwest border."