- The Washington Times - Monday, July 15, 2019

Department of Homeland Security staff took personal belongings from some asylum seekers at the El Paso Del Norte Processing Center and threw them into a dumpster, violating the agency’s standards for handling personal property.

Diana Shaw, assistant inspector general for the Department of Homeland Security, told members of the House Judiciary Committee Monday detainees had to surrender their valuables like money and phones to the center’s staff and her team witnessed the backpacks, purses and suitcases — as well as toys — being tossed into a dumpster.

She said the standard practice is for the DHS staff to process personal belongings, so the bags can be returned to the owner at the appropriate time.

“You should be bagging and tagging property — and it typically would be stored and given back to the alien when released,” she said.

The incident was witnessed in May during a probe of the conditions at the El Paso center, which had more than 750 detainees at the time of inspection. It’s maximum capacity is 125 detainees.

According to Ms. Shaw’s report, border patrol agents said they had to discard the personal property because it could be wet, muddy or contain bugs, creating a “biohazard.”

She also confirmed the Office of Inspector General is conducting an investigation into a 15-year-old girl from Honduras, who said a border patrol agent groped her inappropriately during a search.

Her agency is also investigating the circumstances surrounding the deaths of children that passed while in U.S. custody.

The revelations come after the Office of Inspector General issued emergency management alerts earlier this Summer detailing the concerns about hygiene and health related conditions at several of the overcrowded border detention centers.

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