On Monday, a number of House Democrats traveled to Texas to visit Customs and Border Patrol facilities in El Paso and nearby in Clint. This followed press coverage of a disturbing secret Facebook group used by some members of Border Patrol to post racist and misogynistic jokes, including rape threats against New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
These border facilities, in addition to their inherent inhumane nature, have been accused of serious abuse, including of children. Reports of kids who are sick, caring for one another, and without proper food, water, and sanitary conditions have gotten a lot of media attention. As Ocasio-Cortez tweeted, however, women are also facing disgusting conditions, including allegedly being told to drink out of a toilet and going 15 days without a shower.
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.
They all began sobbing – out of fear of being punished, out of sickness, out of desperation, lack of sleep, trauma, despair.
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) July 1, 2019
Joaquin Castro, a Democratic congressman from Texas and chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, tweeted the following short clip backing up Ocasio-Cortez’s comments:
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
— Joaquin Castro (@JoaquinCastrotx) July 1, 2019
In an interview with CNN, Castro explained, “It’s not just about money, it’s also about the standards of care. We’re going to have put a hell of a lot of pressure on the Trump administration, through appropriations, through investigations, to get them to change what they’re doing.”
Ocasio-Cortez says CBP agents confiscated her phone:
And to these CBP officers saying they felt “threatened” by me –
They were literally discussing making a GoFundMe for an officer who attacked my on my tour.
They confiscated my phone, and they were all armed. I’m 5’4”.
They’re just upset I exposed their inhumane behavior.
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) July 2, 2019
Rep. Ayanna Pressley was interrupted by pro-Trump protesters:
Rep. Ayanna Pressley: "I learned a long time ago that when change happens it's either because people see the light or they feel the fire.
— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) July 1, 2019
Their boos didn’t silence Rep. Pressley; in fact, she responded to them, saying, “Keep yelling—this is very appropriate. Vile rhetoric for vile actions … racist words and venom for racist policies. I’m tired of the humanity and the full freedom of black and brown children being negotiated and compromised and moderated.”
Rep. Rashida Tlaib was also heckled:
We can't just focus on the children anymore. I met grandmothers, mothers and fathers who are suffering. This is devastating. The look in one father's eyes broke me. I can't look away. #CloseTheCamps
— Rashida Tlaib (@RashidaTlaib) July 1, 2019
The Trumpist protesters were trying their best to pretend they were pro-immigrant and diversity, but their mask disintegrated when @RashidaTlaib spoke.
They yelled about how much they loved pork. When she said she loved her country, they called her a foreigner. pic.twitter.com/4gdljhS8Ty
— Jonathan M. Katz✍🏻 (@KatzOnEarth) July 1, 2019
In the above clip, someone yells at Rep. Tlaib to “go back to [her] country” (she was born in Detroit). Also, the “pork” reference is clearly Islamophobic.
The Hill reports that the lawmakers requested that the protesters be removed so they could avoid more interruptions, but that the request was denied. As an alternative, they asked about having a question-and-answer session with the press on federal land (again, to remove the protesters from the equation), but this was also denied.
If this is what happens when facilities know all eyes are on them, what happens when they think no one is looking?