“Jail-like.” “Hot warehouse.” “Wholly inadequate.”
Those are the words that US representatives from Massachusetts used to describe migrant detention centers after touring them in Texas on Monday.
Joe Kennedy III, Ayanna Pressley, and Lori Trahan were among more than a dozen House members to tour the facilities. The trip, organized by the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, included stops in El Paso and Clint, Texas.
Kennedy documented his experience on Twitter, saying that Customs and Border Protection officials were “uncooperative,” and described the facility as having the atmosphere of a jail.
Spent the morning in TX at Clint and El Paso detention facilities. Big takeaways -- 1) @CBP was very resistant to Congressional oversight. They tried to restrict what we saw, take our phones, block photos and video. Atmosphere was contentious and uncooperative.— Rep. Joe Kennedy III (@RepJoeKennedy) July 1, 2019
2) Facilities are wholly inadequate. Cells maxed to capacity, concrete floors...It felt jail-like. No way to keep a child or innocent human being. Group of 13 women from Cuba were in tears when we spoke with them.— Rep. Joe Kennedy III (@RepJoeKennedy) July 1, 2019
3) The entire system is broken, rotten and rife with abuse. And Trump doubles down on it despite the growing horror -- child detention, metering, Remain in Mexico, threatened ICE raids. Every action he takes exacerbates and entrenches the humanitarian crisis at our nation's feet.— Rep. Joe Kennedy III (@RepJoeKennedy) July 1, 2019
Our oversight is not deterred. Congress won't let up.— Rep. Joe Kennedy III (@RepJoeKennedy) July 1, 2019
Trahan tweeted about how she saw women “sobbing in a crowded cell because they were separated from their kids.”
Toddlers quarantined in a 8x10’ room sleeping on the floor w/the flu.— Congresswoman Lori Trahan (@RepLoriTrahan) July 1, 2019
Young girl in a hot warehouse coloring with a chain link fence around her.
Women sobbing in a crowded cell because they were separated from their kids.
Our system is broken. I won’t stop until it’s fixed.
Pressley, who had to raise her voice to be heard over the shouts of protesters, said women “wept openly in our arms. . . because of the trauma they are experiencing.”
Pressley also said that she had asked her constituents what message they wanted to deliver in Texas. “They asked me to deliver a message that you are welcome here, and that we love you, and we will never stop fighting for your dignity and your humanity,” she said.
Meanwhile, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a New York Democrat, said one woman was told by Border Patrol officers to drink out of the toilet. ‘‘And that was them knowing that a congressional visit was coming,’’ a visibly angry Ocasio-Cortez said in a brief interview. ‘‘This is CBP on their best behavior, telling people to drink out of the toilet.’’
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.
Other members of the delegation described their grim experience visiting the center. Representative Judy Chu, a California Democrat, said in an account posted to Twitter that the conditions at the facility were ‘‘appalling and disgusting.’’
‘‘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,’’ Chu tweeted.
"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
Representative Madeleine Dean, a Pennsylvania Democrat, called the conditions indicative of a ‘‘human rights crisis.’’
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.