POLITICS
09/12/2014 05:07 pm ET Updated Sep 12, 2014

Immigrant Mothers Face 'Unnecessary Cruelty' At Detention Facility, Lawyer Says

WASHINGTON -- Undocumented immigrant mothers and children are kept in excessively cold conditions, given undercooked food and mocked by guards in a detention facility in Artesia, New Mexico, an attorney alleged after a visit there.

"The unnecessary cruelty is astounding to me," immigration attorney Danielle Rosche said Monday on SiriusXM Progress' "The Agenda with Ari Rabin-Havt." "And that I live in a country where this is happening is incredibly upsetting."

The temporary facility for families apprehended by border patrol was opened earlier this year, following a large increase in illegal border crossings by mothers with children and unaccompanied minors. The Department of Homeland Security is attempting to deport recent border-crossers as quickly as possible, but lawyers have traveled to the facility to take on the women's cases.

Rosche, who visited the facility from late August to early September and spoke to more than 30 women, said she heard a number of disturbing stories.

One woman said that she became sick with diarrhea, but guards ignored her pleas to go to the restroom, leading her to eventually soil herself. Another said that when she requested water, a guard took his own water bottle and poured it on the ground.

Rosche said that the detained women also complained of cold conditions in the facilities, something border detainees have noted before, and undercooked food that their children refused to eat, leading them to drop weight.

Reached for comment on Friday, Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman Leticia Zamarripa said she could not comment on specific allegations without knowing the women's names, but those in the facility are able to roam freely inside. She said there were complaints about the temperature in the beginning but it has since been adjusted, as has the meal menu. Zamarripa said that the women and children also have access to snacks along with the three meals they are provided per day, and that everything is up to food service standards.

"As soon as the residents raise a concern, it is addressed," Zamarripa said.

Listen to clips from Rosche's interview with Rabin-Havt below:


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