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  • New Detention Standards Advance Protection of Women & Children

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    Today, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) released new standards for short-term detention facilities, mandating many—but not all—of the protections the Women’s Refugee Commission advocates for the safety and well-being of asylum seekers. The standards prioritize the protection of women and children, a critical concern for over 70,000 children and families intercepted by CBP this year.

    “Finally, treatment of women and children is being taken seriously,” said Jennifer Podkul of the Migrant Rights and Justice Program at the Women's Refugee Commission, which provided feedback on the new standards. “If enforced, these standards will go a long way toward protecting the human rights women and children. And because these standards are now public, we’ll know when they violated.”

    The new standards provide special protection for those at greater risk—including pregnant women, children, and survivors of sexual abuse. They require facilities to provide children with blankets and consistent access to food and to house unaccompanied children separately from adults. The standards also require CBP to keep families together, a protection that has not always been secure in the past.

    Despite the progress, the policies do not go far enough to protect asylum-seekers’ rights. “The new standards don’t require beds or soap, and allow CBP personnel to leave the lights on 24 hours a day,” said Podkul. “These women and children are fleeing violence at home and have suffered trauma during the journey. We can do better than welcome them with a cold, bare concrete cell. That’s not in keeping with the generosity America has traditionally shown toward refugees.”

    The Women’s Refugee Commission has consistently advocated for and was pleased provide feedback on the new CBP standards for short term detention and is committed to ensuring their implementation and ongoing improvement.