This week, I led a delegation of members of Congress to Clint and El Paso, Texas to visit two border patrol facilities. Here’s what we found:
At the El Paso Border Patrol Station #1, women from Cuba, some grandmothers, crammed into a prison-like cell with one toilet, but no running water to drink from or wash their hands with. Concrete floors, cinder-block walls, steel toilets.
Many said they had not bathed for 15 days. Some had been separated from children, some had been held for more than 50 days. Several complained they had not received their medications, including one for epilepsy. Members of Congress comforted them when the women broke down.
They asked us to take down their names and let everyone know they need help. They also feared retribution. We then went to the Clint Border Patrol Station that warehouses children and some parents.
The tents outside, used during the surge recently, were dark and surrounded by chain link fences. The showers — mobile units — were dank, dirty and only too small in number for the hundreds of people there just a few weeks ago.
And a boy, perhaps three years old, pressed his face against the dirty glass of a locked steel door. He smiled big and tried to talk to us through the thick glass. His family — or another — ate Ramen on the floor a few feet away.
There are many good agents — men and women working earnestly to care for the people in their custody. But they are overwhelmed in a system that is morally bankrupt and challenged by rogue agents whose culture was on full display in the Facebook group revealed by ProPublica this week.
All Americans must help to change this system.
To watch the videos I took during our visit inside the facilities, click hereand here.
To watch my full interview discussing this on PBS Newshour click here, my full interview on MSNBC with Chris Hayes click here, and to listen to my NPR interview click here.