July 11, 2019

Feinstein Speaks on Inhumane Conditions at Border Patrol Facilities

Washington—Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today spoke about a recent Department of Homeland Security inspector general (IG) report that highlighted inhumane conditions in several Border Patrol facilities.

            “Last week, we received a report from the Department of Homeland Security IG that validates what we’ve heard in recent days. The IG found Border Patrol facilities packed beyond capacity. Children have nowhere to sleep, their meals are inadequate and their medical care is insufficient.

            I know the Republican side of this committee is going tomorrow to the border and I thank you for that. I thank you for the invitation. We’re going to try and put something together on our side.

            My staff recently, though, I’m just going to use this as an example, visited a couple of Border Patrol stations in California. At one, El Centro, 304 people were crammed into space with a maximum [capacity] of 191 and there was only one outdoor shower for everyone and children and adults are packed into unsanitary cells.

            Yesterday, I met with the president-elect of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Dr. Sally Goza, who recently visited children in detention at the border in McAllen and Donna, Texas. What she described was horrific: children just packed in cages. It’s interesting, she said instead of being loud and unruly, all she heard was silence and the crinkling of Mylar blankets. All she saw were bloodshot eyes and blank stares.

 

            A ten-year old boy separated from his father was inconsolable. His father had given him a note and said, “Whatever you do, don’t lose it. Here’s a person and here’s a number. When you get out you call that person and that number.” Guess what? The child lost the note. Ten-years-old.

            Dr. Goza gave me photos, which I showed you, that she took of sad drawings made by children. I think most of us have seen them and can figure out the starkness of the story they tell. And the story they tell really of conditions that are inhumane and should spark outrage and everyone one of us in particular. So I think we’ve got to ask ourselves: how can we take better care of these children?

            The proposals being made [by the administration] do not improve the care of children at our border, I’m told. The [administration’s] legislative ideas focus on dismantling the few humanitarian protections we have in place while the ultimate goal is to frighten families from fleeing to our country.”

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