Pence Defends Circumstances at Migrant Detention Facilities in Texas

Vice President Mike Pence performed down experiences of overcrowding and unsanitary situations at two migrant detention facilities in Texas that he visited on Friday, however he acknowledged the gravity of the humanitarian disaster unfolding alongside america’ southwestern border.

The tour gave journalists protecting the vice chairman a uncommon glimpse inside a Border Patrol station close to McAllen, Tex., the place they noticed practically 400 males crammed inside a cage with no house to lie down and no mats or pillows, in accordance with pool experiences.

Earlier than members of the information media have been ushered out of the facility, a number of the detainees shouted that they’d been there for greater than 40 days, have been hungry and couldn’t brush their tooth. One pool reporter described the stench as “horrendous” — a number of the brokers wore face masks — and stated it was sweltering contained in the detention middle, which is lower than 10 miles from the Rio Grande, the river that divides america and Mexico.

“I was not surprised by what I saw,” Mr. Pence stated later at a information convention. “I knew we would see a system that was overwhelmed. This is tough stuff.”

Mr. Pence was effusive in his reward of Border Patrol brokers, whom he known as “compassionate.” However as a substitute of tamping down criticism of the Trump administration’s dealing with of the tide of refugees, many from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, the images and movies that emerged from the tightly choreographed tour additional infected critics.

The go to got here 10 days after the discharge of a scathing report by the independent watchdog arm of the Division of Homeland Safety on the poor situations at migrant holding facilities close to the border. Greater than a dozen grownup detainees have died whereas in custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement because the starting of final 12 months, according to the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

The identical day Mr. Pence visited the border, 1000’s of demonstrators throughout america held protests and candlelight vigils to specific their opposition to the White Home’s immigration coverage. In Aurora, Colo., protesters raised a Mexican flag in entrance of an area detention middle.

“It’s apparent that @realDonaldTrump & @VP have very different definitions of humane and compassionate than the rest of us,” Senator Mazie Hirono, Democrat of Hawaii, said on Twitter. “Let’s be clear: crowding hundreds of people in cages in sweltering heat without showers or basic necessities is neither humane nor compassionate.”

On the information convention, Mr. Pence tried to deflect the criticism to Democrats in Congress, calling on them to supply further funding for extra beds for the undocumented immigrants detained by ICE. He additionally sought to spotlight his position in a $4.6 billion emergency spending bill that tries to handle the border disaster; it was authorized by Congress final month and signed by President Trump on July 1.

Michael Banks, the patrol agent answerable for the McAllen detention middle, stated in a information media briefing that the migrants had been supplied three meals a day by native eating places, together with juice and crackers.

Due to house limitations, he stated, male detainees can’t have cots, however they’d been given mylar blankets that appear like aluminum foil. Crinkling sounds from the blankets could possibly be heard by journalists, who have been allowed inside the power for about 90 seconds.

Earlier on Friday, Mr. Pence visited a cavernous detention middle in Donna, Tex., that may accommodate as much as 1,000 folks. It was in-built Might and at present homes about 800 migrants, in accordance with pool experiences.

The vice chairman was accompanied by the second woman, Karen Pence, and three Republican senators: Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, John Cornyn of Texas and Mike Lee of Utah. Mr. Lee helped interpret for Mr. Pence, who had requested a number of migrant kids questions in English, in accordance with a pool reporter.

When Mr. Pence requested the kids if they’d meals and have been being taken care of, they nodded and some stated “sí,” in accordance with the pool report. However when he inquired if they’d a spot to “get cleaned up,” the kids shook their heads.

Two kids advised Mr. Pence that they’d walked for 2 to 3 months to achieve america. He then stated “God bless you” in English and “gracias,” in accordance with the pool report.

A number of Democratic presidential candidates criticized Mr. Pence’s look on the detention facilities. Amongst them was Julián Castro, the previous San Antonio mayor and a secretary of housing and concrete growth beneath President Barack Obama.

“Make no mistake, @VP, this is the result of your administration slashing aid to Central America and undermining the asylum process,” Mr. Castro said on Twitter on Saturday. “You and Donald Trump share the blame.”

On Friday, Mr. Pence excoriated one among Mr. Trump’s favourite targets, CNN, calling its protection of his go to to the detention facilities “dishonest.”

“And while we hear some Democrats in Washington, D.C., referring to U.S. Customs and Border facilities as ‘concentration camps,’ what we saw today was a facility that is providing care that every American would be proud of,” he stated, in accordance with a transcript of his remarks in McAllen.

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Neil Vigdor

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