Pence deplores 'crisis' at US migrant camp


A stench from body odor hung stale in the air. Some of the men in there apparently said they'd been there "40 days or longer".

"I believe these women, " she said.

Single-adult male detainees stand inside a holding area inside the Border Patrol station in McAllen, Texas July 12, 2019. Migrants have been held for weeks or months in facilities not created to hold them that long, drawing increasing criticism from congressional Democrats.

"I was not surprised by what I saw, " Pence said. "I knew we'd see a system that was overwhelmed". "This is tough stuff".

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.

"That's the overcrowding President [Donald] Trump has been talking about".

Firing back, a quartet of Republicans from border states told the same panel that Democrats weren't doing anything to ease the crisis and blamed them for posturing that one said was aimed at "Twitter followers and cynical politics".

The scene resembled what an inspector general found in a scathing report delivered last week based on trips to Border Patrol facilities near the Rio Grande, including the station Pence visited. "They come, they visit, they visit with Border Patrol, but they never hear from the community, they don't talk to us". "Coming here, to this station, where single adults are held, I've equally been inspired by the efforts of Customs and Protection doing a tough job in a hard environment".

Graham didn't specify how long migrants would be held in detention, instead saying the "Flores decision would be modified so we have more than 20 days". Pence attributed the difference to the fact that, due to an overflow of illegal immigrants, a temporary facility had to be established.

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The political fight over the border is likely to only intensify as both parties prepare for the 2020 presidential race, in which immigration will be a top issue.

After visiting the second site, Pence had a more sober assessment.

A patrol agent, Michael Banks, said the men were allowed to brush their teeth once a day.

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.

The men were given three hot meals a day from local restaurants but could not have cots for sleeping because there was not enough room for them.

After he toured the first facility, Pence described a much better situation than the one that has been relayed by Democrats and in news reports. They said they hadn't showered in weeks, wanted toothbrushes, food.

"Every family I spoke to said they were being well cared for, " Pence said, criticizing Democrats' "harsh rhetoric". And it's the reason why we demanded that Congress provide $4.6 billion in additional support to Customs and Border Protection.

Pence first toured a cavernous facility built in May to handle overcrowding and where 800 people are living. There, Dawsey described seeing detainees lying on "kindergarten-like napping mats" on the floor with a "thin tinfoil-like blanket". In another room, children, all under 8 years old, were seated in front of a television watching an animated Spanish film.

"Every family that I spoke to [at the Donna Holding Facility] told me that they are being well cared for".