President Donald Trump Criticizes Democrats Over Comments on Border Facility Conditions

By Janita Kan
Janita Kan
Janita Kan
Janita Kan is a reporter based in New York covering the Justice Department, courts, and First Amendment.
July 3, 2019 Updated: July 3, 2019

President Donald Trump has addressed reports on the condition of border patrol facilities at the southern border on July 3, following claims by Democratic lawmakers that illegal immigrants are subjected to poor treatment.

“Our Border Patrol people are not hospital workers, doctors or nurses. The Democrats bad Immigration Laws, which could be easily fixed, are the problem. Great job by Border Patrol, above and beyond,” Trump posted on Twitter. “Many of these illegals aliens are living far better now than where they came from, and in far safer conditions.”

He suggested that some Democratic Congress members were mischaracterizing the situation in the facilities, saying that the crux of the problem needs to be resolved through stronger immigration laws.

“No matter how good things actually look, even if perfect, the Democrat visitors will act shocked & aghast at how terrible things are. Just Pols. If they really want to fix them, change the Immigration Laws and Loopholes. So easy to do!” he continued.

“Now, if you really want to fix the Crisis at the Southern Border, both humanitarian and otherwise, tell migrants not to come into our country unless they are willing to do so legally, and hopefully through a system based on Merit. This way we have no problems at all!”

The president’s comments come days after Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) made a series of claims after her recent tour at a border patrol detention facility in Texas on July 1 about the condition of the detention facilities and its detainees.

She was part of a group of Democratic lawmakers who were visiting several Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) stations at the southern border in the wake of reports that at least 250 children were detained in dirty and overcrowded conditions with inadequate food and lack of medical care at the Clint border facility, reported The Hill. Most of the children have since been relocated to children’s shelters.

During the visit, Ocasio-Cortez posted various claims about what she had seen and heard inside the facility including one where CBP officers had told a female detainee to drink water from a toilet bowl.

“Now I’ve seen the inside of these facilities. It’s not just the kids. It’s everyone. People drinking out of toilets, officers laughing in front of members Congress,” she said. “I brought it up to their superiors. They said ‘officers are under stress & act out sometimes.’ No accountability.”

Many of her claims have been disputed by past and present border patrol agents and officials, as well as a group of pastors who visited the same border patrol facility as the freshman congresswoman.

“No one is drinking toilet water. They’re drinking potable water from the sink attached to the toilet. It’s what you would find in every municipal jail in the United States,” a CBP official told Mail Online.

Similarly, Washington Examiner also published a statement from a border agent who denied the claims made by Ocasio-Cortez.

“So this is what happened with the migrant and drinking water from toilet: she wanted water, didn’t know how to use the faucet in the cell, and drank from the toilet. She never told AOC that we made her drink from the toilet. AOC, of course, changed it … This was when she [the migrant] was apprehended and brought into the facility,” the agent told the news outlet.

Meanwhile, former Acting Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) director Tom Homan told the Fox News show “America’s Newsroom” that the claim was “just ridiculous on its face” and accused the freshman Democrat of “intentionally misinforming the American public.”

“They are not drinking out of the toilet—no Border Patrol agent is going to make anyone drink out of the toilet,” Homan said during his appearance on July 2. “It’s just ridiculous on its face.”

He explained that the holding cells at the facilities have an apparatus that is comprised of a sink and toilet that uses two separate water lines.

“You’re drinking out of the same apparatus, the same piece of equipment, but there are two separate water lines—one going to the commode, one going to the sink,” Homan said.

“They are designed that way to try to save space and make it more comfortable for the people who are in those facilities,” he added.

Meanwhile, Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, the president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, said that the conditions at a border patrol facility visited by Ocasio-Cortez were “drastically different” to what had been previously described in the media and politicians.

During a press conference on July 1, Rodriguez said his experiences left him with a different perspective on the facility and border patrol agents, Fox News reported.

“I read the reports, saw the news clips. I just wanted to see what was actually happening in order to better enable our efforts to find a fair and a just solution to our broken immigration system,” Rodriguez said during the press conference.

“To my surprise, I saw something drastically different from the stories I’ve been hearing in our national discourse. Even as a veteran of immigration advocacy in the U.S., I was shocked at the misinformation of the crisis at the border,” he added.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection has repeatedly warned that the influx of family units from Central America in recent months has overwhelmed Border Patrol facilities and resources and created a humanitarian crisis. In May, Border Patrol agents detained more than 144,000 people crossing from Mexico—the highest level in more than a decade. Moreover, during the first seven months of the 2019 fiscal year, more than 500,000 illegal immigrants crossed the border into the United States, according to CBP data.

Janita Kan
Janita Kan is a reporter based in New York covering the Justice Department, courts, and First Amendment.