Mike Pence: The Border IS FINE, Also DEMOCRATS' FAULT
Vice President Mike Pence visited two Border Patrol detention facilities in Texas Friday and declared them perfectly fine, despite the complaints of men in one location who said they'd been caged for 40 days without being allowed to shower. Then Pence complained that CNN hadn't reported accurately on conditions at the border, so chalk up another Mission Accomplished moment.
Pool reporter Josh Dawsey of the Washington Post described conditions in a holding area at the detention center in McAllen, Texas.
Here's some video of the pool's visit to McAllen, with detainees saying they'd been held for up to 45 days, in a facility where migrants are supposed to be held no more than 72 hours.
Border detainees say they haven't showered for 45 days www.youtube.com
A bit more detail on that CBP denial:
Michael Banks, the CBP officer in charge of the facility, disputed the narratives shared by the detained migrants. He told reporters all detained people were allowed to shower, but admitted a trailer shower had just been brought onto the premises Thursday, and said some of the men at the facility had not yet had a chance to use it. Because of the lack of shower facilities, Banks estimated some of the men had been forced to go 10 to 20 days without showers.
Ah, well in that case things are probably fine -- after two months of DHS Inspector General's reports detailing overcrowding and sanitation that was so bad that one facility manager described it as a "ticking time bomb," they finally brought in a shower trailer, the day before the Veep showed up.
But don't worry -- this was definitely not a carefully stage-managed border visit, because you see, Pence's office released a statement saying it
specifically instructed CBP to not clean up or sanitize the facility beyond what is routine so the American people could see how serious the crisis at our border is.
Dawsey also noted the VP's office said Pence magnanimously "wanted press to see the McAllen facility," although the Secret Service "had concerns about him going inside." And yet Pence somehow survived -- possibly because he and the reporters were hustled out of the McAllen facility after just 90 seconds.
Mike Pence and Lindsey Graham stare down the North Koreans. Or caged migrants who haven't showered in 40 days.
We like the part where you can see the big Igloo water jugs -- strategically placed outside the cages, because who even knows what those animals would have done if allowed to get water for themselves.
Earlier in the day, Pence visited a family detention facility in Donna, Texas, that has only been open for two months. Conditions there were considerably less crowded; the 800 people being held there constituted well under its maximum capacity.
Pence and his wife, Karen Pence, spoke through translators to children held in a room where they watched Spanish-language cartoons.
Several children nodded "yes" when the vice president asked them if they had enough food and if they were being taken care of; others, however, shook their heads "no" when Pence asked if they had a "place to get cleaned up," according to reports.
The children wore winter jackets and hats indoors because of the air conditioning in the center.
"God bless you," Pence said. "Gracias."
Naturally enough, Pence praised that facility as a bold fresh piece of humanity, because please ignore the lawyers who documented little kids being forced to care for babies, or the DHS inspector General reports documenting overcrowding and poor sanitation, or this:
But Pence had a nice visit to Teresienstadt on the Border, where everything was lovely, just lovely!
"And while we hear some Democrats in Washington DC referring to US 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," Pence said.
After "touring" the McAllen facility for a minute and a half (fine, he probably saw other parts where there were no smelly Central Americans, too), Pence explained it was all Democrats' fault that CNN only showed video of his 90 Seconds Over McAllen Friday night, instead of also showing the better camp. On Twitter, Pence huffed, "These men were in a temporary holding area because Democrats in Congress have refused to fund additional bed space." (That would be the funding Dems reluctantly approved two weeks back because Republicans refused to let the money come with "strings" about minimum standards of care for imprisoned children.) Oh, Pence was MAD!
Shame on CNN! SHAME! Also, here's CNN's video of Pence's visit to the family detention camp and the one in McAllen.
Pence also explained that while the facility was a tad overcrowded, that's just the way things go, and also Democrats' fault:
"What you saw today was a very clean facility where people were being detained indoors," he said, "and then you saw a temporary facility that was constructed because this facility is overcrowded.
"And we can't keep people in a cell beyond what the rules and regulations allow for, but everyone in that temporary facility is getting healthcare, they're getting hygiene and CBP is doing their level best in an overcrowded environment and a difficult environment to address this issue, but Congress has got to act."
Honestly, the people wearing surgical masks to keep some of the stench out are SO BRAVE, keeping America safe (and the water jugs on the AMERICAN side of the fencing).
Democratic presidential candidate Julián Castro told Pence to get stuffed, because it's not CNN that has insisted that every single asylum seeker be jailed forever.
But please, listen to Mike Pence, who believes the horrors at the border simultaneously don't exist, and are also the fault of Democrats who stubbornly refuse to eliminate asylum like Pence and Trump want. You certainly wouldn't want to listen to Friday's' congressional testimony from Elora Mukherjee, a law professor at Columbia University who was one of the attorneys who interviewed children held at the Border Patrol station in Clint, Texas. In testimony before the House Oversight Committee, Mukherje said the children hadn't been bathed, and reeked of urine, vomit, and sometimes of rancid breast milk, making it difficult even for lawyers on her team to get close to them. She said one 6-year-old boy just sat for nearly an hour and sobbed during his interview.
Children could not wash their hands with soap because none was available, she said, her voice cracking. They wore the same clothes on them when they crossed the border and were not able to change underwear. Children were traumatized, hungry and constantly crying. Others, as young as 8 years old, were forced to care for the younger ones.
A guard would come into a cell with a small child in tow, and ask: "Who is going to care for this one?" Mukherjee told lawmakers.
"One 6-year-old girl, detained all alone could only say: 'I'm scared. I'm scared. I'm scared,' over and over again," the professor said. "She could not even tell me her name."
As of this morning, Trump has not yet told Mukherjee to go back where she came from.
Then again, the hearings were held by Democrats, so none of that probably ever happened. Donald Trump said before Pence's trip that reports of mistreatment of migrant kids were "phony," so that seems like a valid counterpoint. Also too, Ken Cuccinelli, the acting director of US Citizenship and Immigration Services, went on the Sunday shows to explain it's ridiculous to consider the conditions in the border facilities any kind of human rights problem:
Get back to the administration when it starts withholding food, and we're sure Cuccinelli will explain everything's fine, because we're still letting them breathe, aren't we? Not that we have to -- they're illegal, after all.
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