The Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General released a report on July 1 regarding conditions in detention centers holding migrants along the Mexico-United States border.
The 16-page report highlighted “dangerous overcrowding” in holding cells along the Rio Grande Valley.
In June, inspectors visited five border patrol stations along the Rio Grande Valley, the southern tip of Texas that sees the most illegal crossings.
On NPR’s Morning Edition, Southwest correspondent John Burrnet reported these detention centers held hundreds of children in “totally inappropriate” jail cells and that the kids “had been there for more than 72 hours.” They also “found 50 young kids, younger than 7, who had been in these conditions for over two weeks.”
These conditions include a lack of “access to showers,” “laundry to wash clothes,” or “hot meals.”
On the same day, lawmakers visited Border Patrol facilities in Clint and El Paso, Texas that were housing children. The trip was organized by the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and saw politicians such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio- Cortez (D-NY), Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-TX), and Rep. Joaquín Castro (D-TX) speaking out on the poor conditions they witnessed.
Before arriving, tensions were high as ProPublica, a nonprofit investigative journalism organization, published its findings on a secret Facebook group of 9,500 Border Patrol Officers. Posts revealed agents calling Latina lawmakers like AOC and Escobar “scum buckets” and “hoes” along with their wishes to “throw a burrito at these bitches.”
AOC tweeted about the situation but remained firm in her plans to visit the facility.
Despite all lawmakers being required to turn their cellphones over, Castro was able to photograph parts of the facility, including showers and jail cells, which he later posted and described on Twitter. AOC’s claim that women were drinking out of the toilet was highly shared and contested on the platform.
Gut-wrenching reports on conditions inside holding facilities are not new.
The Associated Press reported at the end of June that attorneys interviewed more than 60 children in the Texas border facilities and determined that “there’s inadequate food, water and sanitation for the 250 infants, children and teens at the Border Patrol station[s].”
Last year, the phrase “kids in cages” was popularized as children were separated from their parents at the border as part of President Trump’s “Zero Tolerance” policy.
“Kids taking care of kids” is an equally popular utterance.
In June of 2018, The Guardian reported that children were taking care of separated toddlers, changing their diapers and offering comfort.
This June, attorneys at Clint and El Paso facilities found children taking care of a soiled, diaper-less, mucus-covered 2-year-old who “wants to be held all the time.”
On July 3, President Trump signed a $4.59 billion spending bill for overcrowded facilities.
The Senate approved the bill in an 84-8 vote.