Alarming DRI report: US Border and Mexico, detention, abuse, and death of children & adults with disabilities

Two images, a child and an adult with disabilities detained behind bars in Mexico
DRI finds improper detention, abuse and death of children and adults with disabilities in Mexico near the US border.

Disability Rights International (DRI) released the report At the US Border and Segregated from Society, documenting the improper detention, abuse, and death of children and adults with disabilities detained in institutions in Mexico in the State of Baja California. These findings demonstrate the serious risks faced by any child or person with a disability who might be deported from the United States or turned away at the US border.

“Our investigation shows the urgency of stopping abuses against children and adults with disabilities in institutions in Baja California. The government must take immediate action to stop unregulated and very dangerous facilities from detaining any child or adult.” said Priscila Rodriguez, DRI’s Associate Director.

“Based on what we have seen in Mexico, any person with a disability deported from the United States – who does not have relatives caring for them in the community – is at immediate risk of detention,” said Eric Rosenthal, DRI’s Executive Director. “Once they are placed in these facilities, their lives are at risk and it is likely they will be subject to abuse or torture.”

The report finds that migrant children in Mexico remain separated from their parents for months at a time. During this time, these children are at risk of being placed in abusive Mexican orphanages. Once they are placed in an orphanage, they are at risk of permanent separation from parents. In one facility described in the report, four children with disabilities died within a week of each other. These children had been hooked up to feeding tubes – raising serious questions about their medical care and whether such practices were used for the administrative convenience of staff.

DRI found that adults with disabilities can be placed in private unregulated facilities with no government oversight or legal process for detention. DRI visited a private facility that locked up adults with drug and alcohol addiction mixed with minors and people with disabilities and did not have any registration or legal authority to do so. This facility subjected minors and adults to isolation and physical restraints and had no formal treatment program other than prayer, herbal tea, and detention in isolation rooms. Detention creates physical risks for all detainees.

“It outrageous that a person can be locked up without any legal rights or protections just because he or she has a disability,” said Priscila Rodriguez.

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Full report: PDF

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