San Antonio Congressman Joaquin Castro (D-TX-20), who chairs the Hispanic Caucus, led the excursion which included five other Texas members and freshman Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY).
Initially, there was a report by Anna Giaritelli of the Washington Examiner, who said Ocasio-Cortez “screamed at federal law enforcement agents ‘in a threatening manner’ during a visit to a U.S. Border Patrol facility in El Paso.” Giaritelli also reported that Ocasio-Cortez refused to tour the facility according to multiple witnesses.
The latter claim is disputed by Ocasio-Cortez herself as well as Jonathan Katz — who is a reporter covering the delegation and was outside the facility while Ocasio-Cortez toured the facility — and said Ocasio-Cortez “was inside each one for the maximum amount of time—first one in, last one out.”
As for the former claim, the Washington Examiner reported a witness telling them “[Ocasio-Cortez] comes out screaming at our agents, right at the beginning [of the tour] … Crying and screaming and yelling.”
Ocasio-Cortez tweeted out her observations on the visit, including claims that border patrol agents were telling the detainees “to drink out of the toilet.”
In the holding cells, the toilet and sink are part of the same apparatus. This design is common in such facilities as a way to more efficiently provide space.
Ocasio-Cortez later adjusted her position, stating that the toilet and water fountain combination was indeed accurate, but that “the sink portion was not functioning” and “So the women were told they could drink out of the bowl.”
Ryan Saavedra, a reporter with The Daily Wire, tweeted out a statement from a CBP official regarding the claim, “She [unnamed illegal alien woman] wanted water, didn’t know how to use the faucet in the cell, and drank from the toilet. She never told AOC that we made her drink from the toilet. AOC, of course, changed it.”
Ocasio-Cortez also said the CBP agents were “physically & sexually threatening towards me.”
She provided no further details of these allegations.
She also added, “What’s haunting is that the women I met with today told me in no uncertain terms that they would experience retribution for telling us what they shared.”
A CBP spokesperson said in a statement, “CBP takes allegations of mistreatment of individuals in our facilities seriously, and reports all allegations to both the DHS Office of the Inspector General and the CBP Office of Professional Responsibility. Any employee found to have violated our standards of conduct will be held accountable.”
The spokesperson also said of the visit, “This visit offered an open, frank and transparent discussion regarding our facilities and the challenges we face regarding the continuing humanitarian and border security crisis.”
About the facilities, they said, “Migrants in custody receive three meals a day and have access to clean drinking water. Local leadership highlighted investments in additional restroom and shower facilities, hygiene products, increased medical support and expanded transportation capabilities.”
CBP continued that they stressed to congressional members that their facilities are not designed for long-term holding of so many people.
Ocasio-Cortez has been in the media spotlight frequently, most recently accusing the U.S. government of operating “concentration camps” on the border. The outlandish claims caused the U.S. Holocaust Museum to issue a rare rebuke of a member of Congress about making flippant comparisons to the Holocaust.
Yesterday, Ocasio-Cortez continued to accuse the Trump administration of “manufacturing the crisis” by cutting foreign aid to Central American nations.
However, the Trump administration’s announcement on cutting foreign aid occurred at the end of March, by which point the migration crisis was already in full swing with well over 100,000 illegal immigrants having already been apprehended for that month.
The White House’s Office of Management and Budget requested $4.5 billion in border aid at the beginning of May to help CBP deal with the sheer volume of illegal immigrants crossing the border. For months, many congressional Democrats largely dismissed the Trump administration characterizing the border as a crisis.
Congressional Democrats and presidential candidates recently signaled an abrupt shift in their position, however, going from denying a crisis existed to embracing the idea of a humanitarian crisis after Texas Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX-21) and other House Freedom Caucus conservatives ground the House of Representatives to a near standstill by requesting recorded votes on all pieces of legislation in an effort to draw attention to the border.
When images of a dead father and his 2-year-old daughter surfaced after the two drowned in the Rio Grande, the shift was near universal for Democrats.
Congress finally passed a border supplemental last week, but concerns remain over whether the provisions in the bill address the root cause of the continuing security and humanitarian crisis. And the bill provided $330 million less than what the White House requested for ICE funding, much of which was meant to go to beds to accommodate the increased flow.
This comes at a time when apprehensions of illegal border crossers have exceeded six-figures for three straight months.
Last month’s apprehensions totaled over 144,000 illegal immigrants, a number roughly the size of the city of McAllen. June’s apprehension totals are expected to be lower as the brutal heat of summer gets underway.
Recent polling from Gallup shows that immigration has surpassed healthcare as the number one problem for Americans.
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Brad Johnson is an Ohio native who graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 2017. He is an avid sports fan who most enjoys watching his favorite teams continue their title drought throughout his cognizant lifetime. In his free time, you may find Brad quoting Monty Python productions and trying to calculate the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow.