- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 2, 2019

House Oversight Chairman Elijah Cummings on Tuesday called top border officials to testify to Congress next week, saying he’s going to get to the bottom of reports of migrants drinking from toilets and offensive internet posts shared by Border Patrol agents.

Mr. Cummings said he’s asked acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan — who was the head of the border agency until being elevated this spring — to testify, along with his replacement, acting Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Mark Morgan.

Neither man has yet agreed to testify, Mr. Cummings said.

The chairman said the hearing will delve into “harsh conditions” in border detention, as well as ongoing concern over the families separated amid last year’s zero tolerance policy.

Mr. Cummings made clear he’s already drawn his conclusions.

“The Trump administration’s actions at the southern border are grotesque and dehumanizing,” the Maryland Democrat said.

A new report by the Homeland Security inspector general found massive overcrowding at a number of CBP facilities at the southwest border.

The facilities were designed to process single adult migrants from Mexico, who were usually held for a few hours at most. But the surge of illegal immigrant children and families from Central America, who sometimes have to be held at the border for days or even weeks, have strained the system.

A group of congressional Democrats visited two border facilities Monday and reported terrible conditions, including asserting that one woman said they were told they had to get drinking water from a toilet.

The inspector general’s new report doesn’t address that issue specifically, though a photo of one family detention center included in the report does show a cooler with bottles and paper cups stacked nearby.

The report found tensions running high at facilities, with adult male migrants intentionally clogging toilets with their government-issued mylar blankets in order to create maintenance problems so they could be freed from the cell.

“At one facility, detainees who had been moved from their cell during cleaning refused to return to their cell. Border Patrol brought in its special operations team to demonstrate it was prepared to use force if necessary,” the inspector general said. “Additionally, detainees have attempted to escape while removed from their cells during maintenance.”

One manager told auditors the situation was “a ticking time bomb.”

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