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Temperatures Within Border Patrol Facilities Challenged In Trial

The U.S. government and a team of legal advocacy groups representing migrants in Border Patrol custody clashed over a cornerstone complaint: the temperatures inside the facilities.

Diane Skipworth took the stand as a legal witness for the U.S. in its defense against a trial that it treats migrants harshly in Arizona. She was hired by the government in 2016 to review conditions in southern Arizona where she maintained that temperatures run between 68 and 80 degrees inside.

The agency has been accused of keeping the temperatures down as a punitive measure. Skipworth told the court that just like an office, what’s cold to one person may not be to the next.

However, under cross-examination, she admitted that even though she personally saw people huddled under Mylar thermal blankets, she never actually asked any of them if they were cold. The trial will conclude next week.

Fronteras Desk senior editor Michel Marizco is an award-winning investigative reporter based in Flagstaff.