A border facility near El Paso was found to contain 900 migrants despite a maximum capacity of just 125.
An unannounced spot inspection of a border detention facility near El Paso, Texas, by the Department of Homeland Security's inspector general (IG) uncovered extensive overcrowding and unhygienic conditions, according to a Thursday report.
The El Paso Del Norte Processing Center has a maximum capacity of 125 people, but it during one inspection in early May, the IG found that border patrol agents had crammed 900 people into it. The IG's office called it "dangerous overcrowding."
In one instance, a cell designed to hold a maximum of 35 people had 155 people in it.
In addition to overcrowding, the IG's office cited concerns about the health and well-being of the migrants, and for good reason.
"With limited access to showers and clean clothing, detainees were wearing soiled clothing for days or weeks," the report states. Further, members of the IG team "observed detainees standing on toilets in the cells to make room and gain breathing space, thus limiting access to the toilets."
Border patrol agents told the IG's office that some migrants were kept in standing-room-only conditions for not just days but weeks.
After the report was made public, some members of Congress blasted the Trump administration for failing to maintain safe and hygienic conditions for migrants.
"DHS has completely and utterly failed at handling the humanitarian crisis at the border. The findings serve as further evidence that the Trump Administration is not just neglecting to address the crisis — they are, in fact, exacerbating it," Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS), chair of the Committee on Homeland Security, said in a statement.
"DHS is not prioritizing its resources adequately, and the result is dangerous conditions like the ones found in El Paso," he added.
El Paso's congresswoman, Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-TX), expressed concern about the conditions at the facility.
"Todays' report is alarming and publicly confirms what I have witnessed firsthand for months: the conditions of our processing facilities strip migrants of their dignity and represent a serious danger to the health and safety of migrants and agents," Escobar said in a statement.
"As an El Pasoan and a member of the House Judiciary Committee, I urge the Department of Homeland Security to employ alternatives to detention and work alongside advocates, local stakeholders, and Congress to immediately institute an action plan to ensure our agents and facilities are equipped to address our immigration challenges in safe and humane conditions."
Unfortunately, this is not the first time the Trump administration has corralled migrants into unsafe and unsanitary conditions.
On Thursday, the Washington Post reported that up to 1,000 children were being detained for longer than the law allows, with some being held up to twice as long as the legal limit.
In early April, Rep. Nanette Barragán (D-CA) visited a tent city holding facility in Texas where she witnessed "heartbreaking" conditions. She saw babies as young as four months old sleeping on the floor of a tent erected on a parking lot, and said, "People are in a confined space, they're not getting showers, their clothes are dirty, babies are not getting Pampers like they should be."
In May, CNN received photos of families at a border facility near McAllen, Texas, sleeping on the ground atop rocks.
In February, the Trump administration went so far as to suggest housing migrant children on top of a toxic waste dump, causing Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA) to say "the entire approach of this administration towards immigrant children has been characterized by cruelty."
The Trump administration is creating a legacy of mistreating migrants, from the unconscionable family separation policy uncovered int eh summer of 2018, to their efforts in exacerbating the humanitarian crisis at the border now.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.