Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Monday described the abysmal conditions she and other members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and other House Democrats saw after visiting two immigration detention facilities in Texas, and said she'd learned that Customs and Border Patrol officers told detained women to "drink out of the toilets."
“After I forced myself into a cell w/ women & began speaking to them, one of them described their treatment at the hands of officers as ‘psychological warfare’ — waking them at odd hours for no reason, calling them wh*res, etc.,” she wrote. “Tell me what about that is due to a “lack of funding?”
Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., was part of a delegation of more than a dozen House members who toured two centers in El Paso and Clint, Texas.
"We came today and we saw that the system is still broken," said Rep. Joaquín Castro, D-Texas, who chairs the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, at a press conference after their tour. "These are the conditions that have been created by the Trump administration. These are the inhumane conditions that folks are facing," he said, as he and the other lawmakers were trying to speak above the din of hecklers shouting, "America First!"
Rep. Marc Veasey, also from Texas, wrote on Twitter, "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 pad-locks used to lock up men, women, and children."
“I see why CBP officers were being so physically and sexually threatening towards me,” Ocasio-Cortez wrote on Twitter. “Officers were keeping women in cells w/ no water & had told them to drink out of the toilets.”
“This was them on their GOOD behavior in front of members of Congress,” she added.
Castro, who told reporters that the Pro Publica report "shocks the conscience that these agents are entrusted with the lives of anybody in their custody," corroborated Ocasio-Cortez's tweets, stating that the group encountered a group of around 15 mothers — some of whom had been housed in the facility for more than 50 days — living in "indefensible" conditions.
This moment captures what it’s like for women in CBP custody to share a cramped cell—some held for 50 days—for them to be denied showers for up to 15 days and life-saving medication. For some, it also means being separated from their children. This is El Paso Border Station #1. pic.twitter.com/OmCAlGxDt8
"When we went into the cell, it was clear the water was not running," Castro said. "One of the women said she was told by an agent to drink water out of the toilet. These are the conditions folks are facing."
Just left the 1st CBP facility.
I see why CBP officers were being so physically &sexually threatening towards me.
Officers were keeping women in cells w/ no water & had told them to drink out of the toilets.
This was them on their GOOD behavior in front of members of Congress.
Later, speaking to reporters after leaving the first facility, Ocasio-Cortez pushed back against the narrative that the poor conditions could be attributed to a lack of resources.
“There’s abuse in this facility," Ocasio-Cortez told KTSM, NBC News’ El Paso affiliate. "This is them on their best behavior? And they put them in a room with no running water, and these women were being told by CBP officers to drink out of the toilet.”
Rep. Madeleine Dean, D-Pa., wrote on Twitter, "We were met with hostility from the guards, but this is nothing compared to their treatment of the people being held. The detainees are constantly abused and verbally harassed with no cause. Deprived physically and dehumanized mentally - everyday.This is a human rights issue."