Rep. Elijah Cummings unloaded on the acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security for deceiving the American people about Trump's detention camps.
House Oversight chair Elijah Cummings slammed the Trump administration Thursday for painting an overly rosy picture of the conditions at detention camps where migrant children are being held, despite independent reports to the contrary.
Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan claimed, during his testimony before the committee, that the department is "doing our level best." But conditions at the camps, exacerbated by Trump's order to separate families at the border, range from substandard to horrific. Children have been held in facilities that eyewitnesses said smelled "of sweat, urine and feces."
The Office of the Inspector General found evidence of "dangerous overcrowding," where detainees had been held in "standing room only conditions for a week." In one location, people were held without a shower for "as long as a month."
Cummings was clearly upset by McAleenan's response that this was the department doing its best.
"What does that mean when a child is sitting in their own feces? Come on, man. What's that about?" Cummings asked.
"None of us would have our children in that position. They are human beings," he added.
Republicans in Congress have often deflected criticism of how the agencies under Trump's leadership are handling immigration, particularly when it comes to overcrowded detention camps, but Cummings preempted those complaints.
"I am tired of folks saying, 'Oh, they're just beating up on the Border Patrol. Oh, they're just beating up on Homeland Security.' What I'm saying is I want to concentrate on these children, and I want to make sure that they're OK," he told McAleenan.
Cummings expressed his concern about the future effect mistreatment at the hands of American officials would have on the memories of the children in custody.
A coalition of doctors and bioethicists recently called the conditions at Trump's camps "ethically abhorrent." One Texas pediatrician described it as "child abuse and medical neglect."
"We are the United States of America. We are the greatest country in the world. We are the ones who can go anywhere in the world and save people, make sure that they have diapers, make sure that they have toothbrushes, make sure that they're not laying around defecating in some silver paper," Cummings said. "Come on, we're better than that."
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.