Migrants Being Told to Drink Water From Toilets, Lawmakers Say



Several Democratic lawmakers who toured two Texas border facilities on Monday described a "horrifying" system of immigration, and confirmed reports of poor conditions and overcrowded cells.

The group of lawmakers toured the facilities in Clint, Texas where they met with a group of 15 to 20 mothers who had been detained at the Border Patrol Station in northeast El Paso. Some of the mothers were separated from their children and the cell they were in had no running water to drink, the lawmakers said of the conditions there.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) claimed she witnessed migrants drinking out of toilets, something that was quickly denied by officials with the Border Patrol.

"People (are) drinking out of toilets, officers laughing in front of members Congress," Ocasio-Cortez wrote in a series of tweets about her tour of the border patrol facilities.

"I brought it up to their superiors," she said in one tweet. "They said 'officers are under stress & act out sometimes.' No accountability."

Later, in an interview with CNN's Natasha Chen, Ocasio-Cortez said she felt unsafe during her tour around the officers, at one point screaming at Border Patrol agents who were trying to take selfies with her before she toured one facility, according to a statement from her spokesman, Corbin Trent.

US Border Patrol Chief of Operations Brian Hastings denied the allegations that migrants were being forced to drink out of the toilet.

"Drinking out of the toilet is completely untrue," Hastings said, adding that a lot of their stations look like Costco, with plenty of supplies.

Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX), was also among the lawmakers touring the facility, bringing a camera to document the conditions.

"We came today and we saw that the system is still broken," Castro told an assembled crowd of media, immigration activists and protesters at the Clint, Texas, Border Patrol station.

Rep. Madeleine Dean (D-PA) also tweeted about her visit calling conditions at the facility "far worse than we ever could have imagined," and that it was a "human rights crisis."

"We were met with hostility from the guards, but this is nothing compared to their treatment of the people being held," Dean wrote on Twitter. "The detainees are constantly abused and verbally harassed with no cause. Deprived physically and dehumanized mentally - everyday."

"(Fifteen) women in their 50s- 60s sleeping in a small concrete cell, no running water. Weeks without showers. All of them separated from their families," Dean added.

The lawmakers' description of the facilities come on the same day ProPublica revealed posts and texts from a closed Facebook group that current and former Border Patrol agents allegedly share jokes and memes about migrant deaths. Other posts are filled with derogatory comments about Latina lawmakers with at least one lewd meme involving sexual assault.

Information about the posts and the agents who made them have been forwarded to the Department of Homeland Security Inspector General, according to Hastings.

Photo: Getty Images

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