WASHINGTON — Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Monday accused US border agents of conducting a program of “psychological warfare” against detained migrants who were told to drink water from toilets if they were thirsty.
Her comments on Twitter came amid a report that border agents used a secret Facebook group to share lewd posts about Ocasio-Cortez and at least one other Democratic lawmaker as well as racist comments about migrants.
“Just left the 1st CBP facility. I see why CBP officers were being so physically & sexually threatening towards me. Officers were keeping women in cells w/ no water & had told them to drink out of the toilets,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted, referring to US Customs and Border Protection.
Just left the 1st CBP facility.— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) July 1, 2019
I see why CBP officers were being so physically &sexually threatening towards me.
Officers were keeping women in cells w/ no water & had told them to drink out of the toilets.
This was them on their GOOD behavior in front of members of Congress.
Now I’ve seen the inside of these facilities.— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) July 1, 2019
It’s not just the kids. It’s everyone. People drinking out of toilets, officers laughing in front of members Congress.
I brought it up to their superiors. They said “officers are under stress & act out sometimes.” No accountability.
Now I’m on my way to Clint, where the Trump admin was denying children toothpaste and soap.— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) July 1, 2019
This has been horrifying so far. It is hard to understate the enormity of the problem. We’re talking systemic cruelty w/ a dehumanizing culture that treats them like animals.
What’s haunting is that the women I met with today told me in no uncertain terms that they would experience retribution for telling us what they shared.— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) July 1, 2019
They all began sobbing - out of fear of being punished, out of sickness, out of desperation, lack of sleep, trauma, despair.
Ocasio-Cortez also spoke after visiting the Clint, Texas, facility.
"What we saw today was unconscionable," Rep. Ocasio-Cortez says during visit to border facility. "No woman should ever be locked up in a pen, when they have done no harm to another human being. They should be given water. They should be given basic access to human rights." pic.twitter.com/rXVQEvT8hZ— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) July 1, 2019
Representative Judy Chu, Democrat of California, also said on Twitter that migrants were told to drink from the toilet if they wanted water. Representative Madeleine Dean, Democrat of Pennsylvania, in a tweet called conditions “far worse than we ever could have imagined.”
"If you want water, just drink from a toilet." That's what border patrol told one thirsty woman we met on today's #DemsAtTheBorder trip. These are the same CBP personnel who threatened to throw burritos at members of Congress. Changes must be made. #DontLookAway pic.twitter.com/dW34DRduDA— Judy Chu (@RepJudyChu) July 1, 2019
Just left the first CBP facility. The conditions are far worse than we ever could have imagined.— Congresswoman Madeleine Dean (@RepDean) July 1, 2019
15 women in their 50s- 60s sleeping in a small concrete cell, no running water. Weeks without showers. All of them separated from their families.
This is a human rights crisis.
President Donald Trump, asked by reporters at the White House about the report on Border Patrol agents’ Facebook group, said, “I don’t know what they are saying about members of Congress, but I know the Border Patrol is not happy with the Democrats in Congress.”
“The Border Patrol, they are patriots, they are great people, they love our country,” Trump said.
The lawmakers were taking part in a delegation organized by the Congressional Hispanic Caucus to El Paso and Clint, Texas, to investigate facilities used to detain undocumented immigrants. Ocasio-Cortez said on Twitter she “forced” herself into a cell to speak to women, who described “their treatment at the hands of officers as ‘psychological warfare’ — waking them at odd hours for no reason, calling them wh*res, etc.”
Customs and Border Protection in a statement Monday said it was opening an investigation into the Facebook group, which was first reported by the news organization ProPublica. It reported that members of the group shared a post in which a photo-shopped President Trump is shown to force Ocasio-Cortez’s head toward his crotch and another illustration suggesting she engaged in oral sex with migrants.
“Today, US Customs and Border Protection was made aware of disturbing social media activity hosted on a private Facebook group that may include a number of CBP employees,” said Assistant Commissioner Matthew Klein. He said the Department of Homeland Security’s inspector is beginning an investigation.
The White House didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment about the ProPublica article.
House Homeland Security Chairman Bennie Thompson, Republican of Mississippi, called the Facebook group “beyond sexist and racist — it is truly abhorrent and shameful, and there is no excuse for this depraved behavior. The agents found to be responsible for these vile comments should no longer have the privilege of representing the United States of America in uniform.”
Congress last week passed a $4.5 billion emergency border funding bill aimed at improving conditions for migrants at the border. House Democrats were unable to secure all the provisions they wanted to force Homeland Security to improve the conditions in their facilities.