- The Washington Times - Friday, July 12, 2019

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez called Friday for sweeping immigration policy changes during her emotional testimony before the House Oversight Committee about the squalid conditions and abuses she said she witnessed at migrant detainment facilities.

In a rare hearing where four Democrat and four Republican representatives provided witness testimony during a hearing on child separation policies, Ms. Ocasio-Cortez decried what she saw earlier this month. 

“What’s worse, Mr. Chairman, was the fact that there were American flags hanging all over these facilities,” the New York Democrat said. “That children were being separated from their parents in front of the American flag, that women were being called these names under an American flag, we cannot allow for this.”

Ms. Ocasio-Cortez reported on the Congressional Hispanic Caucus’ visit in July at an El Paso, Texas, detention center, during which she said representatives were instructed to only speak to officers and dissuaded from “having contact” with detainees.

She added that after an officer attempted to sneak a photo of the lawmakers, they asked to see one of the cells, which led to Ms. Ocasio-Cortez’s highly contested claim that women were being forced to drink from toilets.

“When these women tell me they were put into a cell and their sink was not working and we tested the sink ourselves and the sink was not working and they were told to drink out of the toilet bowl, I believe them. I believe those women,” Ms. Ocasio-Cortez said, holding up written accounts allegedly from some of the women.

Her testimony was briefly interrupted after a Democratic aide collapsed. Rep. Mark Green, who is a doctor, examined the aide and said she would be OK.

Ms. Ocasio-Cortez finished by saying the immigration crisis needs broad foreign and domestic policy changes to be solved.

“Whether it was agents, whether it was HHS officials, oftentimes they said the thing that we need most is not resources, we need policy change,” she said. “So we need to change our metering policies, we need to change our detention policies, we need to change our policies on who we call unaccompanied. And that is one of the key areas in addition of changing our policy on foreign affairs, on investment and on being an equal partner in the Western hemisphere.”

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