Stop Inhumane Detention Practices at Border


Target: Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson

Goal: End human rights violations at border detention centers

Litigation brought against Customs and Border Protection, an arm of the Department of Homeland Security, alleges gross mistreatment of detainees at so called “hieleras”, where many immigrants are brought after capture at the southern U.S. border. During the colder months, the unheated hieleras (a term used by agents which means in Spanish “icebox” or “icemaker”) subject detainees to frigid temperatures that complainants in the suits say turned their lips and fingers blue.

With as many as 30 people packed into a room without chairs, beds, blankets or readily available drinking water (except in one case from a single thermos shared by all the detainees), the complainants allege that not only did the cold make it impossible to sleep on the floor, but that they were often given only one meal a day – a sandwich which arrived frozen solid. Women who were in need of bathing facilities were denied requests to clean themselves after their menstrual cycle.

The complainants also tell of being repeatedly asked to sign documents printed in English, a language which they neither spoke, nor read or understood. The documents were authorization for their deportation

It’s clear that the use of hieleras by U.S. Customs and Border Protection blatantly disregards human dignity and rights. Sign this petition to demand that the Department of Homeland Security end the inhumane practices at hieleras.


Dear Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson,

Does subjecting immigrants (whether documented or undocumented) to inhumane treatment really assist in efforts to deal with the ongoing problem of waves of people from outside our borders trying to come to a country where their prospects are better than those they face in their own country? And does putting them through horrific circumstances make our own country any safer?

We are a nation that prides itself on respect for all human life, so we are only creating hypocrisy by condoning such tactics like detaining people at hieleras. To discontinue their use would go a long way towards making the country more honest.

The treatment of immigrants at hieleras cannot go on for long without repercussions – not necessarily of a practical kind, but of the kind that would see the very fabric of our national spirit begin to unravel in the face of our neglect of the maintenance that any country’s soul needs in order to remain whole.


[Your name here]

Photo credit: James Tourtellotte via Wikimedia Commons

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89 Signatures

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