Democratic Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez’s recent visit to migrant detention facilities at the southern border has resulted in a congressional investigation into the facilities and the Customs and Border Protection officers employed there.
Ocasio-Cortez, who spoke on multiple occasions about her visit, alleged that she saw women in the detention facilities drinking from toilets at the request of the CBP officers.
“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,” the congresswoman tweeted after her visit.
“It’s not just the kids. It’s everyone. People drinking out of toilets, officers laughing in front of members Congress. I brought it up to their superiors. They said ‘officers are under stress & act out sometimes.’ No accountability,” she added.
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.
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) July 1, 2019
The Washington Examiner reports a border agent later said Ocasio-Cortez was misrepresenting the situation and said it was one incident of a woman drinking from a toilet when she first entered the facility.
The agent said: “So this is what happened with the migrant and drinking water from the toilet. She wanted water, didn’t know how to use the faucet in the cell, and drank from the toilet. She never told AOC that we made her drink from the toilet. AOC, of course, changed it … This was when she [the migrant] was apprehended and brought into the facility.”
The Democratic lawmaker, who traveled with several other members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, said she also heard the CBP officers using “derogatory and sexist comments regarding immigrants and members of Congress,” Politico reports.
A secret Facebook group allegedly run by Border agents is under fire for depicting @AOC in vulgar images and mocking migrants.
Ocasio-Cortez, who's one of several Dems touring detention centers today, said the officers were "sexually threatening towards me" after her visit pic.twitter.com/QC69xXdBNO
— POLITICO (@politico) July 1, 2019
Following her visit, Ocasio-Cortez and Congressman Joaquin Castro called for Congress to investigate further on what she saw that day. The House Homeland Security Committee obliged the request.
“Unfortunately, there are many within [Customs and Border Patrol] who have become desensitized to the point of being dangerous to the migrants in their care,” Castro said at a news conference in Clint, Texas, after touring the town’s notoriously overcrowded facility for migrants. “I expect there will be a congressional investigation to get to the bottom of it.”
"What we saw today was unconscionable," Rep. Ocasio-Cortez says during visit to border facility. "No woman should ever be locked up in a pen, when they have done no harm to another human being. They should be given water. They should be given basic access to human rights." pic.twitter.com/mNLP0k4Dyi
— ABC News (@ABC) July 1, 2019
Politico reports those employees reportedly behind the social media page were being investigated:
The tour — which was organized by Border Patrol officials and required lawmakers to give 48 hours’ notice — did not show overcrowding or poor conditions. But lawmakers said migrants who spent time there told a different story.
“They went out of their way to show us facilities that were mostly empty,” Rep. Marc Veasey (D-Texas) said in a phone interview after the tour. “They tried to show us orderliness, cleanliness. But when members of Congress spoke to people that were being detained in the holding cells, that’s not what they described… They described being deprived of daily showers and certain other rights.”
— CBS4Local (@CBS4Local) July 1, 2019
Note: The author of this article has included commentary that expresses an opinion and analysis of the facts.
But by Monday, Democrats were reacting to a new crisis within the Border Patrol agency: Facebook posts by current and former agents who mocked dead migrants — including the recent photo of a drowned father and daughter — and referred to Ocasio-Cortez and other Latina Democrats as “hoes” ahead of their trip to a Border Patrol facility. The Facebook group was initially reported by ProPublica.
The agency announced Monday afternoon that it had informed the inspector general of the “disturbing” Facebook group, opened an investigation and that employees who participated in the posts would face consequences.
“These posts are completely inappropriate and contrary to the honor and integrity I see—and expect—from our agents day in and day out. Any employees found to have violated our standards of conduct will be held accountable,” Border Patrol Chief Carla Provost said in a statement.