Protesters in SoCal call for closure of migrant detention centers

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Protests were held in the Los Angeles area and across the country Tuesday calling for the government to close migrant detention facilities.

Criticism from activists comes amid reported squalid conditions inside the immigration centers.

Protesters are urging lawmakers, like California Congressman Adam Schiff, to shut down the facilities and protect the safety of migrants.

The "Close the Camps" protests come a day after a congressional delegation visited several Customs and Border Protection facilities and reported migrants being held in unsanitary and inhumane conditions.

California Congresswoman Judy Chu also toured some of the centers, which she described as "appalling" and "disgusting." She said in a video posted on her Twitter page that she spoke with detainees who said they did not have access to running water, and one migrant woman who claimed a border agent told her to drink water from a toilet.

There's also accounts of children being denied soap and toothbrushes, and crowded into unsafe conditions.

"You can't even send supplies down there," said protester Cindy Mitchell. "They're not accepting anything from citizens, I've seen that, and we're just shut down."

Several demonstrators were able to meet with Chu, among them were several people who were recently released from a camp.

Nicky Caballero said she is a transgender woman and was attacked a number of times in her native Honduras. She came alone to the U.S. to escape and spent several months in two camps.

CBP officials speaking on condition of anonymity have denied allegations of mistreatment at border patrol facilities, adding an internal investigation is underway.

The mobilizations nationwide also follow the death of a Honduran migrant who died in the custody of federal immigration agents after falling ill at a Houston detention facility. According to a statement Monday by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, 30-year-old Yimi Alexis Balderramos-Torres died Sunday morning in a suburban Houston hospital after he was found unresponsive in his dormitory.

Organizers are calling on Schiff to support the repeal of Section 1325, which makes unauthorized border crossing a crime and allows for families to be separated at the border.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.
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