Pence Visits Migrant Detention Center in Texas, Says Immigration System ‘Overwhelmed’

July 13, 2019 Updated: July 13, 2019

Vice President Mike Pence and his wife Second Lady Karen Pence visited a detention center in Texas on July 12, seeing firsthand the conditions of the facilities.

The center they visited, the Donna Holding Facility, sits close to the southern border with Mexico. The Pences were joined by senators from the Senate Judiciary Committee and Kevin McAleenan, acting secretary of Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

After visiting the facility, Pence said at a news conference that he was not surprised by what he saw.

“I knew we’d see a system that was overwhelmed,” Pence told reporters. “This is tough stuff.”

Asylum-seekers rest in the Donna Holding Facility in Donna, Texas on July 12, 2019. (Veronica G. Cardenas/Reuters)

The Trump administration has consistently described the situation at the border as a crisis needing a strong response, which many Democrat lawmakers described as contrived before recently changing their stance.

A pool reporter on the scene said the 384 single men at the facility were given three hot meals a day from a local restaurant but some had to sleep on the ground because there wasn’t enough room for cots where they were being held.

Many of the men had not showered for 10 to 20 days because the facility did not previously have showers, according to Michael Banks, a patrol agent, who said it now had a trailer shower. Banks said the longest any man had been at the facility was 32 days.

Another 275 women were living in repurposed Army tents, he said.

Water and snacks sit on shelves for asylum-seekers at the Donna Holding Facility in Donna, Texas on July 12, 2019. (Veronica G. Cardenas/Reuters)

During the tour, Pence was approached by some small children, asking them if they were being taken care of at the facility. The children nodded, with Pence responding, “God bless you.”

Pence took to Twitter to share pictures from the tour, writing that he and his wife “saw firsthand how even in the face of our overwhelmed facilities, @CBP is providing humane and compassionate care.”

“Congress MUST reform our laws to end this unsustainable crisis of illegal immigration at the border,” he added.

Pence later said that the openly anti-Trump network CNN distorted the visit in its coverage when it only showed footage of the single men, leaving out video of the families that Pence also spoke with.

“CNN is so dishonest. Today we took reporters to a detention facility on the border for families and children and all told us they were being treated well. The crisis at our southern border is not a ‘manufactured crisis,’ it is real and is overwhelming our system. To show this, we also visited an overcrowded facility for adult men, many of whom have been arrested multiple times,” he wrote.

“These men were in a temporary holding area because Democrats in Congress have refused to fund additional bed space. Rather than broadcast the full story, showing the compassionate care the American people are providing to vulnerable families, tonight CNN only played video of men in the temporary facility and didn’t play any footage of the family facility at all.”

“Ignoring the excellent care being provided to families and children. Our great @CBP agents deserve better and the American people deserve the whole story from CNN!” he added.

Reuters contributed to this report.

Follow Zachary on Twitter: @zackstieber
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