Vice President Mike Pence at a migrant detention center, McAllen, Texas, July 12, 2019
With the Trump Administration under pressure over inhumane conditions in migrant detention centers, Vice President Mike Pence visits one of the facilities in Texas.
Pence saw a center in McAllen holding 382 men, packing behind caged fences with not enough room for all of them to lie down on the concrete, and with no mats or pillows. He appeared to scrunch his nose from the stench of body odor in the intense heat.
The men shouted, “No shower! No shower!” Pence did not react but kept his arms folded.
Before the Vice President’s arrival, the men told reporters that they had been held for more than 40 days. They said they were hungry and wanted to brush their teeth. The only water was outside the fences, and Border Patrol agents to drink had to give permission to drink.
Pence stayed only a moment in the holding area. Before entering, he viewed it from an observation room called the “Bubble”.
Undercutting Trump’s “Hoax”
But Pence was able to cover up the inhumane conditions through a visit to a second center, in Donna, Texas, which is only two months old. He blamed Democrats for comparing the centers to “concentration camps”.
The Vice President asked children, most of them lying on napping mats with tinfoil blankets, if they had food and receiving care. They all nodded, and some said “sí.” But when asked if they had a place to “get cleaned up”, a few children shook their heads no.
In McAllen, Pence tried to insist that the deprivation vindicated the Administration’s warnings of a crisis over migration into the US, rather than conceding that it may be the effect of the White House’s “zero tolerance” policy launched in April 2018.
That’s the overcrowding President Trump has been talking about. That’s the overwhelming of the system that some in Congress have said was a manufactured crisis. But now I think the American people can see this crisis is real.
He refused to answer twice when asked if he was satisfied with the conditions but finally said, “I knew we’d see a system that was overwhelmed. This is tough stuff.”
The admission undercut Trump, who said on Friday that detailed reports from lawyers, legislators, and the Department of Homeland Security are “phony”.
Last week, Trump proclaimed that the accounts of inhumane conditions are a “hoax”: “Many of these illegals aliens are living far better now than where they came from, and in far safer conditions.”
Last month lawyers — given access only because of a court order — were so troubled by what they saw in a Clint, Texas facility that they went to the media. They spoke of hundreds of children in dirty diapers and mucus-stained clothing in the overcrowded center.
Flu and lice outbreaks were going untreated, and children were filthy, sleeping on cold floors, and taking care of each other because of the lack of attention from guards. They had no access to toothbrushes, toothpaste, or soap.
A professor visited a Border Patrol station in Texas.
She told Congress she saw children:
– wearing clothes covered in dirt, urine
– unable to shower, brush teeth
"One 6 year old girl, detained alone, could only say 'I'm scared, I'm scared, I'm scared' over and over again." pic.twitter.com/Ac4NaQw6Mr
— AJ+ (@ajplus) July 12, 2019
Two week ago, more than a dozen Democratic legislators saw the Clint and El Paso centers. Women, many of them crying, said they had gone 15 days without a shower, had no soap, and were allowed to start bathing only after the congressional visit was announced. Some said they were forced to drink out of the toilet when the faucet in their cell broke. A diet of bologna sandwiches left many constipated and ill.
A leaked Homeland Security report confirmed the testimony of the lawyers and representatives. It described conditions in five centers in Texas’s Rio Grande Valley such as standing-room-only cells, women and children without showers and hot meals, and detainees desperately appealing for release.
See also Flu, Filth, and Lice: Inside a Texas “Concentration Camp” For Immigrant Children
TrumpWatch, Day 893: Legislators Tour “Broken” Migrant Detention Facilities
TrumpWatch, Day 894: Inhumane Conditions in Migrant Detention Centers — Government Watchdog