McALLEN, July 3 - Sister Norma Pimentel will tell a congressional panel later today that what she saw inside a Border Patrol detention center was “heartbreaking.”
Pimentel was invited to testify before a House Homeland Security Committee field hearing being held at South Texas College’s technology campus in south McAllen.
Working on behalf of Catholic Charities RGV, Pimentel has set up two shelters in the Rio Grande Valley for undocumented immigrants coming in from Central America. Thousands of immigrants have been looked after at the shelters, before they make their trek northwards to be with family.
The shelters, one in McAllen and one in Brownsville, are assisting family units. The Border Patrol detention center Pimentel was allowed to tour kept children separate from their parents.
“The condition of the women and children is heartbreaking,” Pimentel wrote, for her prepared testimony. “They arrive to our site tired, hungry; scared. After their long journey they need to shower and change into clean clothing. Some have not showered in a week or more. They need to eat and rest for a while. Some need medical attention. The children are dehydrated and there have been some instances where we have had to rush a child to the hospital. They all need that special care we all need as humans.”
Pimentel wrote that she was able to speak to the children in their cells.
“During a visit a couple of weeks ago to the Border Patrol facility I had a chance to meet with the children in their cells. To see them surround me and hug me, to see the tears in their eyes and their pleas for help broke my heart. We prayed and talked. After I stepped out an officer thanked me. He said, ‘thank you Sister, you have helped us see that they are humans. We had become desensitized and hardened; thank you’,” Pimentel said.
Pimentel’s prepared remarks conclude with this: “I understand that this must be an overwhelming situation for all the Border Patrol agents who are trying to do their job but I plead with everyone in this room, let us not forget that these children are human beings who need attention.”