Pence tour of migrant centre shows men crowded in cages

Pence tour of migrant centre shows men crowded in cages

"It's overwhelmed and that's why Congress has to act".

Pence toured two migrant holding facilities Friday with Republican senators in an effort to defend the administration's handling of the migrant crisis following reports of inhumane conditions at the facilities. The facility closed in January, but US officials said a new facility is going on the same site to house as many as 2,500 adult migrants.

As if in counterpoint to Democrats' testimony, Pence and eight GOP lawmakers toured a border station in Donna, Texas, a vast collection of air-conditioned, interconnected tents built in May to temporarily handle 1,000 migrants and now holding 800.

When reporters toured the facility before Pence, the men screamed that they'd been held there 40 days, some longer. Agents guarding the cages were wearing face masks.

The cages were so crowded, according to the reporter, that it would have been impossible for all the men to lie down at the same time.

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

Water was available outside the fences, the pool reporter said, citing agents who said the men had access to the water when journalists were not present. Earlier tonight the vice president tweeted, "We have a CRISIS at our border".

Two of the children said they had walked for two to three months before arriving at the facility.

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

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Earlier in his tour, Pence visited another detention facility with a series of large white tents where most of the detainees were lying on kindergarten-like mats with thin, tinfoil-like blankets.

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 later said he was "not surprised by what I saw".

"I was deeply moved to see the care that our Customs and Border Protection personnel are providing", Pence said.

In a statement issued Thursday ahead of Pence's border visit, Texas Democratic Party Communications Director Abhi Rahman dismissed the VP's trip as a photo op.

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

The Trump administration has also been under fire over conditions inside a Border Patrol station in Clint, Texas, where children were found in filthy conditions and keeping watch over younger kids amid the overcrowding.

The hearing came as the number of families, children and other migrants entering the U.S. from Mexico has surged above 100,000 monthly since March, overwhelming federal agencies' ability to detain them in sanitary conditions or move them quickly to better housing.

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