Migrants in a holding center in Texas (Homeland Security)
Amid exposure of the inhumane conditions in migrant detention facilities, Donald Trump says the detainees are better off in the centers than in their home countries.
Trump lashed out in a rambling series of tweets at the revelations, from lawyers and legislators who were finally able to see the situation inside several centers in Texas. He insisted, “Many of these illegals aliens are living far better now than where they came from, and in far safer conditions. No matter how good things actually look, even if perfect, the Democrat visitors will act shocked & aghast at how terrible things are.”
Since the implementation of the Trump Administration’s “zero tolerance” policy in April 2018, there have been accounts of a lack of hygiene, decent food, and essential supplies in the overcrowded centers. As almost 3,000 children were separated from migrant parents, a journalist was able to photo some behind steel fencing.
But attention was galvanized last month when lawyers, under a court order, were able to visit the holding center at Clint, Texas, and speak to migrants. They were so disturbed by what they saw that they spoke to media of flu-ridden children with lice, with no access to soap or showers and left in dirty diapers and mucus-stained shirts.
On Monday, more than a dozen Democratic legislators visited the centers in Clint and in El Paso. They reported desperate women without running water, unable to shower for 15 days, and drinking out of toilets when faucets broke. Video and photographs from Rep. Joaquin Castro, who was able to defy the order not to bring in mobile phones, confirmed the reports.
Then on Tuesday, a leaked report from the Department of Homeland Security confirmed the accounts, undermining the claim of Acting Director Kevin McAleenan that the centers were “clean” and “well-managed”. The report warned of the “immediate risk” of severe overcrowding, with some asylum seekers desperately trying to escape. Some detainees were held in standing-room-only conditions, and a diet of bologna sandwiches was causing constipation and other illnesses.
See also TrumpWatch, Day 894: Inhumane Conditions in Migrant Detention Centers — Government Watchdog
TrumpWatch, Day 893: Legislators Tour “Broken” Migrant Detention Facilities
Flu, Filth, and Lice: Inside a Texas “Concentration Camp” For Immigrant Children
Homeland Security tried to cover itself on Wednesday with the release of a report by the chief accountability officer for Customs and Border Protection, which declared an “extraordinary” response given the increase in migrants.
Moak said he had interviewed than 60 minors at multiple facilities from June 2018 to May 2019. He maintained, in the report required as part of a federal court settlement that sets standards for the detention of children:
In general, minors received regular meals and snacks; had access to drinking water, functioning toilets and functioning sinks; were held in rooms with adequate temperature control and ventilation; and had access to emergency medical assistance if needed. The facilities were safe and sanitary.
The report did note that many migrants did not receive showers or cots or beds to sleep on, and that some toilets were broken although agents were quick to fix them.
“Tell Them Not to Come”
Meanwhile, Trump offer his quick fix to the plight of the migrants, as his Administration seeks to cut off any access to asylum hearings.
If Illegal Immigrants are unhappy with the conditions in the quickly built or refitted detentions centers, just tell them not to come. All problems solved!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 3, 2019
Trump did not explain why, if conditions were worse than detention in the home countries, people would not seek to leave.
Nor did he say why he had ordered the State Department to cut all aid to El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala, including support for anti-poverty, job creation, education, and anti-violence programs.