Rep. Norma Torres (D-CA) on Tuesday shared disturbing details of a congressional visit to two migrant detention centers in Texas.
Torres told MSNBC that the 15 visiting Democratic lawmakers weren’t allowed to bring their phones inside the facilities (Rep. Joaquín Castro (D-TX) brought one in anyway) and that the Democrats had to force border officials to let them inside the cells.
The California Democrat said that “if not for pushing our way and insisting on having border agents open up one of the cells” to talk to the migrants, the lawmakers wouldn’t have found out about the detainees being forced to drink out of the cell’s toilet.
“The only running water in the cell was coming out of that toilet,” Torres said.
She also described seeing a supply room “fully stocked with basic necessities” that weren’t being provided to the migrants.
“But what good is it to have a supply room, a fully stocked supply room, if those supplies are not getting to the people that need it?” Torres asked. “And let me ask the country, how is a 2-year-old supposed to ask for soap and water?”
On Monday, Castro posted several photos and videos he took of the facilities in Clint and El Paso showing mold-ridden bathrooms and people crammed in cells while being denied medicine and even showers.
“Our border patrol system is broken. And part of the reason it stays broken is because it’s kept secret,” Castro, who is the chair of the Hispanic Caucus, tweeted. “The American people must see what is being carried out in their name.”
After taking the tour, Rep. Madeleine Dean (D-PA) described the conditions as “far worse than we ever could have imagined” and a “human rights crisis.”
To clarify, the women being held ranged in age, including some in their 50s and 60s. Additionally, 2 of the women we met with suffered from epilepsy. It was heartbreaking on so many levels.
— Congresswoman Madeleine Dean (@RepDean) July 2, 2019
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) said some women had been denied showers for 15 days.
CBP made us check our phones.
But one woman slipped me this packet to take with me.
It says “shampoo,” but she told me that this is all they give women to wash their entire body. Nothing else.
Some women’s hair was falling out. Others had gone 15 days without taking a shower. pic.twitter.com/OsaKS0YD9a
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) July 1, 2019
“What’s haunting is that the women I met with today told me in no uncertain terms that they would experience retribution for telling us what they shared,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted. “They all began sobbing – out of fear of being punished, out of sickness, out of desperation, lack of sleep, trauma, despair.”
An unnamed Department of Homeland Security official denied the accounts to the Washington Post, insisting that water was available at the facilities.
Watch Torres below:
Rep. Norma Torres (D-CA) describes border officials telling migrants to drink water out of the toilet: "The only running water in the cell was coming out of that toilet." pic.twitter.com/AFZhC9EfZo
— TPM Livewire (@TPMLiveWire) July 2, 2019