Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the New York Democratic Representative, is under attack from many sides for her reports regarding allegedly inhumane conditions in Customs and Border Protection detention facilities, a Fox News report says.
Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, the president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference and an advisor for three US presidents on immigration reform, traveled to the detention facilities at US-Mexico border with a group of pastors and what they saw there was “drastically different” from AOC’s reports.
“I read the reports, saw the news clips. I just wanted to see what was actually happening in order to better enable our efforts to find a fair and a just solution to our broken immigration system," Rodriguez said, according to Fox. “To my surprise, I saw something drastically different from the stories I’ve been hearing in our national discourse. Even as a veteran of immigration advocacy in the US, I was shocked at the misinformation of the crisis at the border."
According to Rodriguez, his group found “no soiled diapers, no deplorable conditions and no lack of basic necessities.” He said that the border agents denied staging the facilities in response to negative press coverage. Some agents told Rodriguez that a number of sources speaking about facilities’ condition “never toured the areas of the facility”.
The Washington Examiner report said that AOC refused to tour the entire facility, opting instead to stay with a detained illegal immigrant family in a holding area.
The Dem Representative was blasted by Tom Homan, former Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) director, who ridiculed AOC’s claims that the detained illegal immigrants – including women and children – were forced to “drink out of the toilets.”
“They are not drinking out of the toilet—no Border Patrol agent is going to make anyone drink out of the toilet,” the official told Fox News. “It’s just ridiculous on its face.”
He explained that the detention facilities are fitted with sanitary devices that combine a sink and a toilet in one unit. Such combined sanitary devices are widely used in US prisons, as their design is specifically aimed at saving space and minimizing suicides.
“You’re drinking out of the same apparatus, the same piece of equipment, but there are two separate water lines—one going to the commode, one going to the sink,” Homan explained.
He acknowledged that detention facilities are jails by design and were not built to accommodate lots of women and children. That’s why CBP is begging for the Congress to provide more funding, so that “these families can be moved into a proper facility with proper care.”
Homan alleged that the Democratic lawmaker was “clearly, intentionally misinforming the American public.”
“She’s lost all credibility,” he told Fox.
Brian Hastings, chief of law enforcement operations at US Border Patrol, also condemned the Representative’s reports.
“We don’t treat people that way. We provide fresh water. We provide food. We provide sanitary items as well as items for bathing and personal hygiene,” he said.
An anonymous Department of Homeland Security told Fox News, however, that the problem is that CBP facilities “are not equipped for the sheer volume of people.”
“[US Department of Health and Human Services] is backed up with children, so there is a real backlog at the CBP facilities there,” the official said. “It’s a real problem. The supplemental funding will help, but it’s a band-aid on a much bigger problem.”
After her visit to the facilities, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez posted a number of tweets alleging that CBP agents were “physically & sexually threatening” towards her, confiscated her phone and were all armed, despite the Representative being 5’4”, alleging that CBP agents were “upset [she] exposed their inhumane behaviour.”
Earlier media reports indicated that CBP agents are packing guns because they expect riots to break out at any moment due to overcrowding.
Ocasio-Cortez said the agents forced women to drink out of the toilets in front of the members of the Congress, alleging that was the agent’s “good” behaviour and implying that, without visitors, the detained illegal immigrants are subject to even worse treatment.
CBP agents said that the lawmaker was acting aggressively at them.
“She comes out screaming at our agents, right at the beginning [of the tour] ... Crying and screaming and yelling," one witness told Fox. “The agents, they wanted to respond, but they held back because she’s a congressional delegate. But when you have someone yelling at you in a threatening manner … They were like, ‘Hey, you need to kinda step back.’”
US Border Protection is scrambling to stop record-high numbers of migrants entering the US illegally, with the agency’s officials repeatedly calling on Congress for more funding. Republicans’ push for more money was met with resistance from Democrats who oppose the crackdown on migration.
Earlier last month, the two parties struck a deal to provide approximately $4.6 billion to the border, with the larger portion of the money going to humanitarian aid for detained migrants and a smaller part to fund the CBP. The bill was signed by US President Donald Trump on Monday.