Washington—Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today released the following statement on conditions in Border Patrol facilities:
“Tomorrow is Independence Day, a time to celebrate the birth of our country and the founding principles for which it stands. But it’s hard to believe anyone feels much pride when they see the images coming out of Border Patrol facilities. Compared to the ideals set out in our founding documents and inscribed on the base of the Statue of Liberty, the situation on our southern border feels like hypocrisy.
“Yesterday we received a report from the DHS inspector general that laid out the horrors that many families and children are experiencing in Border Patrol facilities. This fact-filled, official government report echoes and validates what we’ve heard from reporters, advocacy groups and members of Congress in recent days.
“The IG found facilities packed beyond capacity. No spare clothes. Nowhere to sleep, shower or clean oneself. Inadequate meals. Insufficient medical care. One facility held individuals in ‘standing room only conditions for a week,’ another held adults for ‘more than a month in overcrowded cells.’
“Simply put, the conditions are inhumane.
“And if nothing else makes Americans angry, how children are being treated should spark outrage. They’re forced to sleep on concrete floors, they don’t have enough to eat, many don’t even have the ability to bathe themselves. It’s hard to overstate the distressing state of these facilities where we hear about 8-year-olds trying to take care of infants not related to them because the government does not.
“What the federal government is doing to children is illegal under U.S. law and shocking to the conscience. If any city, county or state detained people in such conditions, they’d be sued by the federal government, and rightfully so.
“A Justice Department lawyer recently argued in federal court that the Flores agreement, which mandates safe and sanitary conditions for children in detention, doesn’t require soap, toothpaste or even beds. That would be laughable if it weren’t so utterly infuriating. This is a catastrophe of the administration’s own making, and it doesn’t appear to care.
“Congress last week appropriated $4.6 billion in emergency funds to help improve humanitarian conditions. That includes $2.9 billion for HHS to more quickly accept children from Customs and Border Protection, and another $1.3 billion for DHS to improve conditions in its own facilities.
“That money must be spent wisely and immediately. It must alleviate the problems identified by the IG at facilities housing immigrants including those specifically identified in the report: the McAllen, Weslaco and Fort Brown Border Patrol Stations, the Border Patrol Central Processing Center, the Donna Processing Center, and the Hidalgo and Progreso ports of entry.
“This situation is simply untenable. Every single American should spend the Fourth of July reading this report and looking at these photos. They’re heartbreaking and they should outrage each and every one of us.
“These families are fleeing from some of the poorest and most dangerous countries in the world, looking for a better and safer life. But when they arrive, this administration is tossing them in squalid cages and treating them like animals. That’s not the United States of America that I know and love.”