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Pence acknowledges 'tough stuff' at border detention centre

13 July 2019

During an interview aired on Friday's broadcast of CNN's "AC360", Vice President Mike Pence stated that the conditions inside one of the border detention facilities he visited were not acceptable to him and stated that Congress needs to act. When I went in there, one of them said to me - I'm talking about the second facility, this isn't human, the way we're treated. "What was worst about this was the fact that there were American flags hanging all over these facilities, that children were being separated from their parents in front of the American flag, " she said.

"I was not surprised by what I saw", Pence said later at a news conference. "This is tough stuff". But ultimately, it underscored each party's starkly warring views about Trump's hardline anti-immigration policies, suggesting they're destined to be a leading issue for the 2020 presidential and congressional campaigns.

The scene resembled what an inspector general found in a scathing report delivered last week based on trips to Border Patrol facilities near the Rio Grande, including the station Pence visited. "But now I think the American people can see this crisis is real".

Pence also criticized statements that people are being held in "concentration camps" as a "slander against Customs and Border Protection".

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A House panel heard at times emotional testimony about conditions at facilities run by the Department of Homeland Security.

Pence's comments were at odds with recent statements from Republicans, as well as Trump, who have accused Democrats who have visited similar facilities of exaggerating the poor conditions.

Michael Banks, the patrol agent in charge of the McAllen facility, said the men there are allowed to brush their teeth once a day and are given deodorant after showering. He said it will be created to hold single adults who have crossed the border and have been taken into custody - it will not hold family units or unaccompanied children - and that it will "provide relief for overcrowded Border Patrol" stations as the agency awaits transferring the migrants to Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody.

They had no cots, mats or pillows, only silver polyester blankets.

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He said they were given three hot meals a day from local restaurants, as well as juice and crackers. "They love those people coming across the border".

"Every family I spoke to said they were being well cared for, and that's different than some of the harsh rhetoric we hear from Capitol Hill", Pence said.

Numerous men had not showered for 10 to 20 days because the facility did not previously have showers, according to Banks, who said it now had a trailer shower. He stressed that he had called for more Department of Homeland Security spending because of the overcrowded situation, including a $4.6 billion U.S. humanitarian aid package that Congress passed recently. Some said they had been there a month or longer. Pence attributed the difference to the fact that, due to an overflow of illegal immigrants, a temporary facility had to be established.

The Trump administration is opening a new 2,500-bed holding facility for adult migrants here, constructing a large soft-sided structure close to the U.S. -Mexico border on the former site of a controversial shelter for migrant children, officials said Friday.

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Pence acknowledges 'tough stuff' at border detention centre