White House defends migrant detention policy as criticism mounts

A detention center for captured undocumented immigrants stands near-empty at a U.S. Border Patrol station on March 13, 2017, in Rio Grande City, Texas.

A report issued by investigators for the Department of Homeland Security said supervisors raised concerns for the health and safety of detainees and agents, warning the overcrowding represented a "ticking time bomb".

"We encourage the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to take immediate steps to alleviate risky overcrowding and prolonged detention of children and adults in the Rio Grande Valley", acting DHS Inspector General Jennifer Costello said in a memorandum to acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan.

The White House and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials pushed back Tuesday against criticism from Democratic lawmakers who toured migrant detention facilities and denounced conditions there.

The group, called 'I'm 10-15, ' has about 9,500 members and posts offensive images, including discussing plans to disrupt a planned congressional visit to a Border Patrol facility and jokes about migrant deaths.

Migrants banged on cell windows and shouted when investigators visited. One photo showed a man in a cell with 88 men, that was built to hold 41, holding a message reading: "Help 40 Day (s) Here".

Upon reviewing Border Patrol data, the inspectors found that more than a third of the 2,669 kids kept in the facilities had been held for longer than the 72 hours generally allowed by government regulation.

Ocasio-Cortez and several colleagues said after touring facilities in Texas that women detained said they had gone weeks without showers and were told to drink water from toilets when sinks broke.

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Vinoth Kaligai, the general secretary of an IT workers' association, confirmed that some firms had told employees to stay at home. Hariharan added that the water sources such as Sholavaram, Red Hills and Chemabarambakkam lakes have totally dried up.

"They put their lives in danger every single day".

Most people apprehended crossing the border illegally are families or unaccompanied minors from Central America, and advocates say they are fleeing violence and severe poverty in search of a better life. Picture pixelated at source. CBP's Office of the Inspector General has launched a probe into the group.

"The Trump Administration's actions at the southern border are grotesque and dehumanizing", Committee chairman Rep. Elijah Cummings said in a statement.

"What is basic human rights?" the official responded. "This is all part of an effort by the administration on their policy from May to say to the world, 'Do not come to our borders if you're fleeing oppression because we will inflict trauma on you and your children'".

"Everybody who has control over that facility, or control for the Border Patrol, has said that's not true, they've not heard of this", Conway said.

Limbaugh, in a segment reported by Media Matters, referred to the congresswoman as "little AOC", and her colleagues that visited the border facilities as a "gaggle of hysterical women ... lying their way through that border visit".

The demonstrations were fueled by fears that Trump's administration is preparing to move forward with a roundup in U.S. cities of immigrants who are in the country illegally.

Trump, meanwhile, looked to stir up support for his policies, promising immigration raids after the July 4 USA holiday to arrest migrants with deportation orders. CBP employees are expected to adhere to CBP's Standards of Conduct, Directive No. 51735-013A both on and off duty, which states, 'Employees will not make abusive, derisive, profane, or harassing statements or gestures, or engage in any other conduct evidencing hatred or invidious prejudice to or about one person or group on account of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, age or disability. Arrests topped 132,000 in May, their highest level in more than a decade.

  • Sonia Alvarado