- Vice President Mike Pence visited two border patrol facilities in Texas on Friday — a family holding facility and an overcrowded facility for single men.
- CBP agents were reportedly asked by the vice president’s office to stick to routine maintenance and sanitation for the visit, in order to give an accurate picture of conditions to the American public.
- “Customs and Border Protection is doing its level best to provide compassionate care in a manner the American people would expect,” Pence said to reporters.
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Men stood and shouted to reporters from behind a chain link fence, ahead of a visit from Vice President Mike Pence to border patrol facility in McAllen, Texas, on Friday.
The Washington Post’s Josh Dawsey described a foul smell emanating from the holding facility where 384 migrant men were detained behind metal fences, with some border patrol agents wearing masks.
Some men told the press they had been there for “40 days or longer,” Dawsey wrote, noting that the facility was so overcrowded with 384 single men that it would be “impossible for all of the men to lie down.” Some complained of hunger, and others said they needed to brush their teeth.
Border Patrol agent Michael Banks said migrants were allowed to brush their teeth once a day, adding that the facility now has a trailer shower for the men to use, according to Reuters. However, some of the detainees had not showered in 10 or 20 days, Banks confirmed to The Post.
He also said they were given three hot meals a day provided by local restaurants. However, there was not enough room within the fenced-in pen for every single man to have a cot to sleep on, Banks said. The men were given mylar blankets.
Banks told reporters the longest that any individual had been held at the facility was 32 days.
A pool reporter’s video, which was played by CNN’s Chris Cuomo, revealed the state of the facility.
VP Mike Pence “knows damn well this President sold people on a brown menace… It was a manufactured crisis… you were trying to scare people to sell your fence” when you knew it was a farce, says @chriscuomo on the VP blaming Dems for seeing the border crisis as manufactured. pic.twitter.com/itaML7xPWV
— Cuomo Prime Time (@CuomoPrimeTime) July 13, 2019
“I was deeply moved to see the care that our Customs and Border Protection personnel are providing,” Pence said to reporters. “Coming here, to this station, where single adults are held, I’ve equally been inspired by the efforts of Customs and Protection doing a tough job in a difficult environment.”
CBP agents were reportedly asked by the vice president’s office to stick to routine maintenance and sanitation for the visit, in order to give an accurate picture of conditions to the American public.
“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,” Pence said during a news conference. “But now I think the American people can see this crisis is real.”
This statement from Pence is at odds with what President Donald Trump and other Republicans have previously stated — accusing Democrats who recently visited detention centers of exaggerating conditions.
“The Fake News Media, in particular the Failing @nytimes, is writing phony and exaggerated accounts of the Border Detention Centers,” Trump tweeted on July 7, 2019. Later blaming the migrant crisis at the border on Democrats for not allowing “loopholes” on asylum laws to be changed.
“The facility is overcrowded and our system is overwhelmed,” Pence wrote on Twitter on Friday. “It is time for Democrats in Congress to step, do their jobs, and end this crisis.”
Pence also visited a family holding facility in Donna, Texas, which was only two months old and “cleaner,” The Post reported. In a video recorded by The Post, Pence can be seen asking migrant children watching television if they are comfortable and well taken care of, to which they nod their heads in response.
“Every family I spoke to said they were being well cared for, and that’s different than some of the harsh rhetoric we hear from Capitol Hill,” Pence said. “Customs and Border Protection is doing its level best to provide compassionate care in a manner the American people would expect.”
Other detention centers have been the center of recent scrutiny. A New York Times report on a facility in Clint, Texas, described “filthy, overcrowded conditions for migrant children there.”
A bipartisan spending bill was passed at the end of June sending $4.5 billion in emergency aid funding to the border. Progressive Democrats, however, were frustrated, saying that it did not do enough safeguard detained migrants.