Trial on Border Patrol conditions continues after inspection

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TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — The trial to examine allegations of unsafe and freezing conditions in some Border Patrol facilities in Arizona continued Thursday as a federal judge gave a brief synopsis of his last-minute inspection at Tucson station.

Judge David C. Bury said in court on Thursday that he didn't want to opine on what he saw, but he did give a brief description of the holding cells and items that are handed out to migrants who are apprehended, such as sleeping mats. Bury visited the Tucson facility on Wednesday afternoon, but hadn't planned on doing so until next week.

Bury is overseeing the trial, which reached its fourth day on Thursday with the government presenting its defense. Plaintiffs ended their witnesses presentations on Wednesday in the lawsuit that was first filed in June 2015 alleging inhumane and unsafe conditions at the Border Patrol's Tucson Sector, which includes eight stations.

The case is limited to the Tucson Sector but is indicative of the issues the agency faces when large numbers of immigrants cross the border and the government is strapped for resources, forcing many to wait extended periods of time in facilities that are meant for short-term detention.

Also on Thursday, three government witnesses detailed the measures the Border Patrol takes to ensure quality at its holding facilities, including surprise inspections by an internal compliance unit.

The trial will continue Friday and is expected to end next week.

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