The Inspector General (IG) for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) reportedly found “dangerous overcrowding” during an unannounced inspection at an El Paso, Texas border patrol processing facility.
That facility has a capacity for 125 migrants, but as of May 7-8, the facility’s records indicated that there were “approximately 750 and 900 detainees, respectively.” One cell that had a maximum capacity of 12 held 76 detainees, CNN reported. Another cell with a maximum capacity of 35 reportedly contained 155 people.
The report found that border patrol “was struggling to maintain hygienic conditions in the holding cells” and that there was “limited access to showers and clean clothing,” meaning detainees were “wearing soiled clothing for days or weeks.”
The IG report also found that detainees stood on toilets to be able to breathe, which, in turn, further limited bathroom access.
“We also observed detainees standing on toilets in the cells to make room and gain breathing space, thus limiting access to the toilets,” the report said. “Corrective action is critical to the immediate health and safety needs of detainees, who cannot continue to be held in standing-room-only conditions for weeks until additional tents are constructed.”
Detainees are apparently not the only ones being put at risk by these conditions. The IG report found that workers at these facilities are themselves in danger and that morale is falling. Border patrol agents are at “immediate risk to the health and safety” and that they face “high incidence of illness,” the IG said.
DHS response to the IG report by saying it “represents an acute and worsening crisis” at the border.
“Our immigration is not equipped to accommodate a migration pattern like the one we are experiencing now,” DHS said. “The speed with which illegal migrants are transiting through Mexico to reach our southern border is frustrating our best efforts to respond quickly.”
[John Moore/Getty Images]