- The Washington Times - Friday, July 12, 2019

Rep. Veronica Escobar on Friday accused border patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement of deliberately overcrowding migrant detainment facilities to keep space open for this Sunday’s expected ICE raids.

Prior to her testimony in front of the House Oversight and Reform Committee about the detention facilities in her district, the Texas Democrat was asked by CNN’s “New Day” about a now deleted tweet saying she saw “adults held outdoors, sleeping on rocks, in the heat, under tarps.”

“What’s now clear is that @ICEgov is able to conduct these raids because they have been keeping beds open for the planned raids. The inhumane conditions in EP were a CHOICE by ICE,” she wrote.

When asked whether she had proof of this claim, she said they know “there are empty beds and empty facilities in other parts of the country.”

“Just a month ago, I saw about 250, mostly men, Cubans, outside under these conditions in the tweet you just read, and I’ve asked, ‘Why aren’t you all moving them? This should be a temporary processing facility. Why are they being held?’ They will tell me point-blank, ‘we’re waiting for ICE. We can’t move them until ICE accepts them, and ICE is telling us there is not enough beds.’ Yet we know there are empty facilities,” she said.

“I’m not an advocate for long-term detention or for treating migrants like criminals, but my God, get them out from these conditions and get them indoors,” Ms. Escobar said.

“ICE really has a lot of control right now, but I believe the reason they’re keeping many of their facilities empty is to make room for the interior raids. Keeping people in inhumane conditions has been a choice,” she said.

President Trump confirmed that deportation raids will begin Sunday in about 10 major U.S. cities, saying it’s impossible to keep such a “major operation” secret from the public. Mr. Trump halted them in June, allowing Democrats to “work out a solution to the Asylum and Loophole problems at the Southern Border.”

Ms. Escobar, who was testifying in front of her colleagues on what she witnessed in the facilities, said the El Paso district she represents “has been ground zero for the Trump administration’s cruel and inhumane policies.”

“When people are in our care, vulnerable migrants, they have been subjected to some very inhumane conditions. The group that is most vulnerable is children, and we’ve seen six deaths in American custody. We’ve seen children literally ripped from the arms of their parents. Family separation, this horrible, abhorrent policy, is still occurring today. So it’s up to us in Congress to lift the veil on everything that is happening,” she said.

David Boyer contributed to this report.


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