Ernst town hall in Iowa gets contentious over guns
Dem senator describes 'overcrowded quarters,' 'harsh odor' at border facilities
Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) in a Saturday Twitter thread said that he and other senators witnessed "overcrowded quarters" and a "harsh odor" during a visit to facilities at the U.S.-Mexico border.
Schatz tweeted that during the trip to the Texas facilities, led by Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), he learned that some men went three to five days between showers and were drinking "heavily chlorinated water." The senator also alleged that women told him they were not allowed to make phone calls.
He described a group of teenagers he met as looking "exhausted."
"They are all fleeing violence. Seeking refuge. This is not how we should be treating them," Schatz tweeted. "The cruelty is the point and it comes from the most powerful person in the world."
A Customs and Border Protection (CBP) official told The Hill in a statement Saturday that the agency uses its "limited resources to provide the best care possible to those in our custody, especially children."
"As [Department of Homeland Security] and CBP leadership have noted numerous times in testimony to Congress and in numerous media engagements that our short-term holding facilities were not designed to hold vulnerable populations," the official said.
The Hill has reached out to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Customs and Border Protection for comment on Schatz's tweets.
According to a DHS statement on the visit, Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan was joined by 15 senators to visit the Donna Soft-Sided Processing Facility, a local non-governmental organization, McAllen Border Patrol Station and the Ursula Central Processing Center.
Schumer also decried the conditions as "awful" during a Friday press conference.
Conditions in which migrants are held have faced increased scrutiny following a DHS inspector general report released this month that found "dangerous overcrowding" and "prolonged detention of children and adults" at facilities in the Rio Grande Valley.
Testifying before Congress Thursday, McAleenan said that "CBP is currently experiencing an unprecedented and unsustainable situation at the southwest border that is spreading CBP resources too thin," according to his prepared remarks.