WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — Lawmakers in Washington, D.C. heard testimony from other members of Congress about reports of overcrowding and unsafe conditions inside migrant processing centers.
Democratic lawmakers served as witnesses before a House committee on Friday as part of their investigation into the systematic separation of migrant children from their parents.
Texas Rep. Veronica Escobar and other members of Congress testified about the conditions they saw during a recent visit to a border patrol facility.
“We’ve seen severe overcrowding in border patrol processing centers that is so inhumane,” said Escobar.
“These women tell that they were put into a cell and that their sink was not working,” said New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. “We tested the sink ourselves and the sink was not working. And they were told to drink out of a toilet bowl — I believe them.”
Lawmakers must give advance notice before touring detention centers; however, the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General, who conducts unannounced inspections, agrees the conditions are concerning.
“Overcrowding and prolonged detention, recently observed by DHS OIG inspectors … pose a serious and imminent threat to the health and safety of both DHS personnel and detainees and require the department’s immediate attention and action,” said DHS Acting Inspector General Jennifer Costello.
But Texas congressman Chip Roy said he and his staff have also visited facilities at the border and didn’t see problems with conditions there.
“My chief of staff had a very different experience in terms of what he saw in terms of cleanliness of facilities in terms of border patrol trying to do its job,” Roy said.
During the hearing, President Trump called the reports of bad conditions “phony.”