There’s horrific, dangerous overcrowding happening at a Customs and Border Protection facility
Today in absolutely disgusting, sickening news: hundreds of migrants have been forced into an overflowing, standing room only detention center where they’ve been given limited access to showers and clean clothing. The Homeland Security Inspector General has reported that there’s “dangerous” overcrowding and the people detained are living in unsanitary conditions.
The detention center is in El Paso, TX and was designed for 125 people. A staggering 900 migrants have been forced into the cramped space. A report from the Homeland Security Inspector General, first obtained by CNN, painted a horrific crisis.
“Border Patrol agents told us some of the detainees had been held in standing-room-only conditions for days or weeks,” the report read. “…CBP (Customs and Border Protection) was struggling to maintain hygienic conditions in the holding cells. With limited access to showers and clean clothing, detainees were wearing soiled clothing for days or weeks.”
Here's what they found: 750-900 migrants being held in a space meant for maximum 125. pic.twitter.com/0aLXSmc57G
— House Homeland Security Committee (@HomelandDems) May 31, 2019
The Homeland Security inspector general also wrote that people were standing on toilets in the cells in order to make more room to breathe, which then limited bathroom access. It was recommended that immediate steps be taken to correct this awful situation.
“Corrective action is critical to the immediate health and safety needs of detainees, who cannot continue to be held in standing-room-only conditions for weeks until additional tents are constructed,” the Inspector General noted.
It’s worth noting that this is one of the many deeply inhumane situations that migrants have had to deal with in El Paso. Back in March, it was reported that hundreds of people were forced to live under a bridge while Customs and Border Protection tried to process everyone.
“Due to the large volume of apprehensions within the El Paso station’s Area of Responsibility, the agency has undertaken additional measures to facilitate processing,” CBP said in a statement. “As [migrants] arrive at the processing facility, they are placed at the ‘tent’ to await their turn to be processed. This tent serves only as a transitional shelter and is not a temporary housing facility.”
Clearly, President Trump’s immigration tactics are not working. These detention centers are a mess, the processing procedure is a mess, and people are being treated horrifically. According to Rep. Bennie Thompson, the chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, the Trump administration and the Department of Homeland Security are to blame.
Today the @DHSgov's Inspector General revealed dangerous levels of overcrowding at border facilities. The El Paso Del Norte, which I visited, early last month is holding 750-900 migrants inside a facility with a max capacity of 125 pic.twitter.com/Un8ZcXRK4B
— Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (@RepBonnie) May 31, 2019
“The situation at the southern border is further proof President Trump’s border security and immigration policies are a complete failure, and his Administration deserves much of the blame for making this humanitarian crisis worse,” he said, according to BuzzFeed News. “The Department of Homeland Security continues to block families trying to present themselves at our ports of entry, pushing them to areas between the ports of entry and adding additional stress to our border and immigration system. There is no legitimate reason for migrants to be held in horrid conditions or encamped under the bridge.”
If these stories are making you sick to your stomach, there are a few really great El Paso-based organizations that could use your support. The Annunciation House, for instance, provides shelter, meals, and clothing to migrants along the Texas/Mexico border. Diocesan Migrant & Refugee Services offers free and low-cost immigration services and also serves unaccompanied children. Or, head to Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center, where they’re meeting the legal needs of refugees, asylum seekers, and families seeking reunification.