'This is tough stuff': Pence visits caged, unwashed, overcrowded migrants
- Author: Sonia Alvarado Jul 14, 2019,
Jul 14, 2019, 0:54
He added: "This is tough stuff".
"I knew we'd see a system that was overwhelmed", Pence told reporters.
The vice president also claimed that the conditions at the facility for adults were owed to congressional Democrats who "refused to fund" additional beds, despite the Democratic-led House of Representatives recently signing off on a Republican-created bill from the Senate to provide a almost $4.6 billion emergency aid package for agencies handling arriving migrants.
Single-adult male detainees stand inside a holding area inside the Border Patrol station in McAllen, Texas July 12, 2019. Reporters who were given a tour before Pence arrived said the men screamed that they'd been held 40 days or longer. Agents guarding the cages were wearing face masks. "The McAllen station, where our cells are overflowing ... ought to be a very clear message to every American that the time for action is now and the time for Congress to act to end the flow of families that are coming north from Central America to our border is now".
Migrant children held in Yuma, Arizona are accusing U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents of sexual assault and retaliation for protests, according to dozens of accounts by children collected by government case managers reports NBC News.
He said they were given three hot meals a day from local restaurants, as well as juice and crackers.
Some Democrats have described the detention centers as "concentration camps" and say the USA government is holding children in "cages".
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"This isn't human. I'm not a terrorist", one man said. "We now have 88,000 toothbrushes", he said. He left before commenting on the conditions at that second center.
A reporter traveling with Pence described seeing detainees lying on kindergarten-like napping mats on the floor, covered with a thin tinfoil-like blanket.
Numerous families there were to be released within 72 hours.
The Director of Columbia Law School's Immigrants' Rights Clinic Elora Mukherjee spoke about the dozens of detained children whom she and her colleagues interviewed in June at the Clint Border Patrol facility in Texas.
He said he had called for more Department of Homeland Security spending, including a $4.6bn humanitarian aid package that Congress passed recently.
The panel also heard testimony from the Department of Homeland Security's acting inspector general, Jennifer Costello, whose office found "serious overcrowding and prolonged detention in Border Patrol facilities requiring immediate attention". Five children have died in government detention in less than a year.
The hearing came as the number of families, children and other migrants entering the U.S. from Mexico has surged above 100,000 monthly since March, overwhelming federal agencies' ability to detain them in sanitary conditions or move them quickly to better housing.