On Friday, Vice President Mike Pence visited two migrant detention centers in Texas. He got an up close and personal look at the overcrowding issue that migrants are forced to endure.
Border Patrol agents wore face masks during the visit and a video shows detainees packed into holding areas that are surrounded by a chain-link fence, The cold concrete floors were littered with silver blankets.
A group of migrants detained behind chain link fencing shouted to news cameras, “No shower, no shower!”
A reporter, who accompanied Pence to the detention centers, described the centers as “smelling horrendous.”
After walking through the centers and showing no emotion Pence told the media outside that he saw no evidence that the system was overwhelmed.
Seeing the heartbreaking conditions first hand did not temper Pence’s stand that reports of mistreatment, lack of basic necessities and filthy conditions were as he called them “slanderous.”
Pence was joined on the tours by Sen. Lindsey Graham. and officials from the Department of Homeland Security. Graham repeated the words, “the crisis is real,” in referring to illegal border crossings and legal asylum claims at the border.
“But what’s not real,” he said, “is the slanderous allegations of heartless mistreatment by Customs and Border Protection. I can see it in your eyes, I can hear it in your voice, about the care and concern.”
“I couldn’t be more impressed with the compassionate work that our Customs and Border Protection are doing here at this border facility,” Pence said.
He said President Donald Trump sent him so “the American people could see what’s happening here.”
The reporter who toured with Pence and Graham was told not to speak to any of the children or adults being detained.
“It’s time we moved past the harsh rhetoric of the American left,” Pence said at the roundtable held in McAllen.
Pence went on to refute the description, used by U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and other Trump critics, of detention facilities as “concentration camps.”
“Every family that I spoke to told me that they are being well cared for,” Pence said.
Pence tried to bolster his claim by asking a group of no doubt Spanish speaking detainees if “they’re taking good care of you here.” Some of them nodded but most likely had no idea what Pence asked them.
Hope Frye, a San Francisco immigration attorney who has previously toured the same facilities as Pence remains adamant that conditions are deplorable.
“The idea that this is false or exaggerated is really offensive to me,” she said. “It’s like saying migrants’ voices are untrue. It all paints the same picture — depraved indifference to the safety and welfare of children who come to us and are put in our care.”
Back in May, the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General wrote an internal report stating that conditions were so bad at an El Paso, Texas, border facility that agents there feared possible rioting.
Rodolfo Karisch, chief U.S. Border Patrol agent for the Rio Grande Valley Sector, said: “more than 30 migrants a day were sent to hospitals for various injuries, ailments, and conditions.”
South Carolina Republican Graham called U.S. Border Patrol agents “every bit the patriot that U.S. soldiers fighting overseas are. I don’t know what we pay you,” he said, “but it’s not enough.”
“The problem we have here can be fixed, literally overnight,” Graham said.