Yesterday, members of Congress were finally given access to go inside detention camps and see for themselves the conditions. Their report of what they witnessed inside was appalling, heartbreaking, and infuriating. Some of the members of Congress report that the women were forced to drink water out of the toilet, while others said they faced constant humiliation and harassment at the hands of the government employees inside.
The Hispanic Caucus led a group of several politicians to tour the detention facilities in El Paso and Clint, Texas. Some of those members of Congress included Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, California Rep. Judy Chu, Massachusetts Rep. Joe Kennedy and Chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Rep. Joaquin Castro (Julian’s twin brother), among others.
All Americans must help to change this system. Thank you to the members who attended today: @RepEscobar, @RepJudyChu, @RepPeteAguilar, @NormaJTorres, @RepSylviaGarcia, @AOC, @RepLoriTrahan, @RepJoeKennedy, @RepVeasey, @RepPressley, @RepDean, @RepRashida, @gregstantonaz. pic.twitter.com/CZX0wBwWZZ
— Joaquin Castro (@JoaquinCastrotx) July 1, 2019
While no one is allowed to bring in any kind of recording device or phone, Rep. Joaquin Castro did and documented their visit. “At the El Paso Border Patrol Station #1, women from Cuba, some grandmothers, crammed into a prison-like cell with one toilet, but no running water to drink from or wash their hands with,” Castro tweeted. “Concrete floors, cinder-block walls, steel toilets. Many said they had not bathed for 15 days. Some had been separated from children, some had been held for more than 50 days. Several complained they had not received their medications, including one for epilepsy. Members of Congress comforted them when the women broke down.”
— NowThis (@nowthisnews) July 1, 2019
Rep. Ocasio-Cortez also tweeted that she was harassed by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents while on her tour. “These officers felt brazen in there,” she tweeted. “While mgmt was telling us it was a ‘secure facility’ where *members of Congress* had to check their phones, we caught officers trying to sneak photos, laughing. CBP’s “good” behavior was toxic. Imagine how they treat the women trapped inside.” She added, “Pro-concentration camp and Pro-Trump protestors tried to drown out our accounts. They yelled at Rashida Tlaib about pork when she talked about facilities. They called Joaquin Castro’ traitor’ for denouncing family separation.”
Rep. Ocasio-Cortez said she spoke to the women and consoled them, many of them have children placed elsewhere, but they have no clue where they are. On Twitter, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez also tweeted about a CBP secret Facebook that was just outed that showed explicit words and actions from agents about the migrants that they’re supposed to be looking after. In fact, the secret group features members joking about the death of migrants as well as sexist memes about AOC that were edited to make her look like she’s performing oral sex.
This just broke: a secret Facebook group of 9,500 CBP officers discussed making a GoFundMe for officers to harm myself & Rep. Escobar during our visit to CBP facilities & mocked migrant deaths.
This isn’t about “a few bad eggs.” This is a violent culture. https://t.co/SkFwThHElx
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) July 1, 2019
“I know that what we saw, as members of Congress on a scheduled visit planned in advance, must be far from the worst conditions faced by migrants in Border Patrol custody,” Rep. Marc Veasey said. “Nevertheless, we found children barely older than toddlers in cells; families that had been separated from one another; holding centers that were little more than animal sheds, with chainlink fences and padlocks used to lock up men, women, and children.”