US VP Pence visits overcrowded migrant camp, deplores 'crisis'

U.S. border agency says it is holding 200 children down from 2,500 in May

"Look, this is tough stuff", Pence later acknowledged at a news conference. "I knew we'd see a system that was overwhelmed".

The child shelter closed in January after the Trump administration loosened some requirements it had created for potential sponsors offering to care for unaccompanied migrant children. It is unclear whether that decline will be part of a trend, and with construction of new facilities, it appears the US government is preparing for the influx to continue. Some of the men in there apparently said they'd been there "40 days or longer". Agents guarding the cages were wearing face masks. The reporters saw the migrants for all of 90 seconds before they were escorted away, and the vice president "briefly" went into the room.

The conditions were described by a pool reporter from the Washington Post, who said the fenced cages were so crowded that it was impossible for all the men to lie on the concrete.

Vice President Pence visited a migrant detention facility in McAllen, Tex., on July 12.

Michael Banks, the patrol agent in charge of the McAllen facility, disputed the detainees' account of the conditions, saying they are allowed to brush their teeth once a day, and that the no one had been held there longer than 32 days.

Numerous men had not showered for 10 to 20 days because the facility did not previously have showers, according to Banks, who said it now had a trailer shower.

US President Donald Trump said earlier on Friday that he had dispatched Pence to the border to dispel reports of dire conditions at the migrant detention centres. "I've been to Iraq and Afghanistan 54 times", Graham said.

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of NY was among the Democrats who testified.

CNN's Pamela Brown asked Pence about the difference between the relatively cleaner and more comfortable facility for children and their families versus the overcrowded one with the single adult men.


Pence's visit was the latest move by both political parties to use border trips to highlight their case for who is at fault for the border crisis caused by a surge in Central American migrants and what should be done to remedy it.

"I was not surprised by what I saw".

"What's witnessed here today, and the overcrowding of this border station, and the overall crisis at our border, is that Congress must do more", Pence said. The government's own auditors called it a "ticking time bomb" and the situation is shocking many Americans.

Border officials sought to counter some of the men's claims at the second facility Pence visited.

Pence says he has pushed for more federal spending to deal with the situation.

The panel also heard testimony from the Department of Homeland Security's acting inspector general, Jennifer Costello, whose office found "serious overcrowding and prolonged detention in Border Patrol facilities requiring immediate attention".

Central American families fleeing violence, poverty and drought have been coming to the U.S.in record numbers this year, peaking in May, when the Border Patrol made almost 133,000 apprehensions.

The Trump administration has agreed to allow a Stanford University pediatrician to conduct an independent investigation into health conditions for migrant children at US Customs and Border Protection facilities.

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