Mike Pence visits overcrowded, bad-smelling facility for detained migrants in Texas

Cheryl Sanders
July 13, 2019

"I knew we'd see a system that was overwhelmed", Pence said after his tour. "They come, they visit, they visit with Border Patrol, but they never hear from the community, they don't talk to us".

Demonstrators hold a "Lights for Liberty" rally march and vigil near the US Mexico border on Friday.

"Look, for the last six months, Democrats in Congress have been saying this is a manufactured crisis, but as you saw, firsthand, today, here at McAllen Station, where our cells are overflowing, and now that temporary facility that you just saw had to be established, and then the first facility that we saw, where almost 1,000 families with children are being detained, 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".

The press pool covering the vice president was pulled out within 90 seconds. Instead, they are each given a Mylar blanket.

Some of the men said that they had been there for 40 days or longer, were hungry, and wanted to brush their teeth. "But now I think the American people can see this crisis is real".

Republican lawmakers who represent border districts and Democratic lawmakers who have recently traveled to the border each testified. "It's about [an] open borders agenda, resisting our president - more interest in that than securing our border", he said.

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".

A patrol agent, Michael Banks, said the men were allowed to brush their teeth once a day. He said they are also given three hot meals a day, along with juice and crackers. He said they were given deodorant after showering, but conceded numerous men had not showered for 10 or 20 days. She said they're gathered here to remember the lives that have been lost inside immigration detention facilities and on the border.

Pence asked the children if they had food and were being taken care of. Reporters saw stacks of clothes, water bottles, juice and diapers in the facility. Pence told reporters every family he spoke to there said they were being well cared for.

Friday's House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing offered a microcosm of the nation's red-blue chasm and, perhaps, a chance for each side to vent. It held more than 2,700 children at its peak in December, drawing repeated protests and becoming a focal point for critics of the administration's border policies.

According to a report published by the committee, at least 18 children under the age of two were separated from their parents for periods ranging from 20 days to half a year. They all nodded, and some said "si".

Elora Mukherjee, an academic from Columbia University who visited a center in Clint, Texas, told the commission that some children were still wearing the same clothes that they were in when they crossed the border, and were covered in mucus, saliva and other fluids.

"These people - I tell you what - I've been with ICE and I've been with Border Patrol a lot", Trump told reporters before departing on a trip to Wisconsin and Ohio. "And that's the photographs you saw of kids in cages".

"My family came as refugees because they are Jews".

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