Democratic members of the U.S. House of Representatives visited a child detention facility in Texas on Saturday and they were not happy about what they saw. According to the more than two dozen members of Congress who made the trip to the border, children are sleeping behind bars on concrete floors in what “for all intents and purposes” is a prison.
Some members said conditions at the facility were “cruel and inhumane” and they “bring a great shame to a great country.”
The Congressional delegation went to the U.S.-Mexico border city of McAllen, which has become the center of the Trump administration’s zero tolerance and child separation policies. They paid a visit to a Customs and Border Protection processing facility so they could see first-hand what the conditions were.
They said that they saw children in the facility sleeping behind bars, on concrete floors and under “mylar” heat-resistant blankets. California Congresswoman Jackie Speier said, “It is, for all intents and purposes, a prison.”
Rep. Lois Frankel of Florida told reporters that after her visit “my concern is not alleviated” about the children who have been separated from their families. “This is cruel and inhumane,” she said.
She described the inside of the detention facility as being very overcrowded, and it appeared to be “a sea of humanity.”
Rep Frankel suggested that instead of trying to build a border wall Trump should help the conditions in Central America that force tens of thousands of people to flee north to the United States to seek asylum.
Rep. Anna Eshoo of California said that in her opinion Trump’s policy of separating families “has brought great shame to a great country.”
Rep. Elizabeth Esty of Connecticut said she spoke to agents with the U.S. Border Patrol agents and said that they are “concerned and confused.” She also added, “We need consistency and compassion out of this administration.”
Rep. Jim Himes, also from Connecticut, said that Trump’s change of position on the separation issue was “an insane flip-flop.” He also slammed the president for branding children as criminals. “President Trump wants Americans to believe that the hundreds of people we saw in this facility were a danger to them and to this country,”Himes said.
Himes said the Congressional Democrats went to the facility to see that the children detained there “receive the values and ethical good treatment that we demand.” He added that the federal Border Patrol employees were doing the best they could to make the facility livable for the children and parents incarcerated there.
But no matter what the employees at the facility do, they can’t make up for the fact that the detained migrants and their children are living in “cruel and inhumane” conditions and it is up to Trump and his Republican Congressional enablers to do something to fix the situation.
I am a lifelong Democrat with a passion for social justice and progressive issues. I have degrees in writing, economics and law from the University of Iowa.