Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX), chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, posted Monday night to share some shocking photos and videos he took while inside Trump’s detention camps near the U.S.-Mexico border.
Castro, who led a delegation of members of Congress to visit the camps, was not supposed to have his phone — but he smuggled it in because he thought Americans needed to see what he saw.
“Our border patrol system is broken. And part of the reason it stays broken is because it’s kept secret,” Castro wrote Monday evening. “The American people must see what is being carried out in their name.”
At an El Paso border station on Monday, Castro witnessed women, including grandmothers, “crammed into a prison-like cell with one toilet, but no running water to drink from or wash their hands with. Concrete floors, cinder-block walls, steel toilets.”
“They asked us to take down their names and let everyone know they need help,” Castro added.
With the permission of the women, Castro took and shared this photo. It shows the women in tears and looking exhausted, sitting closely together in a cramped concrete cell.
All Americans must help to change this system. Thank you to the members who attended today: @RepEscobar, @RepJudyChu, @RepPeteAguilar, @NormaJTorres, @RepSylviaGarcia, @AOC, @RepLoriTrahan, @RepJoeKennedy, @RepVeasey, @RepPressley, @RepDean, @RepRashida, @gregstantonaz. pic.twitter.com/CZX0wBwWZZ
— Joaquin Castro (@JoaquinCastrotx) July 1, 2019
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) was part of the delegation, and Castro captured a photo of her comforting one of the women locked up. “This woman was telling me about her daughters who were taken from her — she doesn’t know where they’ve taken them,” Ocasio-Cortez said about the woman she is embracing.
Here’s another photo from inside taken by @JoaquinCastrotx, where we’re trying to comfort women trapped in cells.
This woman was telling me about her daughters who were taken from her – she doesn’t know where they’ve taken them.
We held & listened to them. They were distraught. pic.twitter.com/ca1GwKfDfU
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) July 2, 2019
The delegation reported witnessing deplorable conditions inside the detention camps. Ocasio-Cortez and Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA) reported that one woman said a border patrol agent told her to drink water out of a toilet bowl.
The cell only had one toilet-sink combination unit with the sink mounted directly on top of the toilet, Ocasio-Cortez explained on Twitter — and the sink part wasn’t working.
“This was in fact the type of toilet we saw in the cell,” Ocasio-Cortez wrote, referencing a photo of a similar toilet-sink unit taken by an immigration attorney. “Except there was just one, and the sink portion was not functioning.” She added that Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) tried to open the faucet, but “nothing came out.”
This was in fact the type of toilet we saw in the cell.
Except there was just one, and the sink portion was not functioning – @AyannaPressley smartly tried to open the faucet, and nothing came out.
So the women were told they could drink out of the bowl. https://t.co/rcu9Rt6B2x
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) July 1, 2019
At a station near El Paso, Castro took a video of women sitting in a cramped cell and complaining that they have been denied both showers and life-saving medication.
At around the 55-second mark of the video, you can see a “potable water” sign similar to that in the photo Ocasio-Cortez referenced. That’s likely where the cell’s toilet-sink combination is — out in the open and separated only by a low partition from the rest of the cell.
This moment captures what it’s like for women in CBP custody to share a cramped cell—some held for 50 days—for them to be denied showers for up to 15 days and life-saving medication. For some, it also means being separated from their children. This is El Paso Border Station #1. pic.twitter.com/OmCAlGxDt8
— Joaquin Castro (@JoaquinCastrotx) July 1, 2019
“The conditions are far worse than we ever could have imagined,” Rep. Madeleine Dean (D-PA), who was part of the delegation, wrote on Twitter after visiting one of the detention camps. “This is a human rights crisis.”
Before the congressional delegation visited, doctors and lawyers visited Trump’s detention camps and came away horrified. One doctor compared the treatment of children in detention camps to “torture facilities,” describing children being denied showers, fed uncooked frozen meals, and forced to sleep on concrete floors with the lights on.
The new reports from these members of Congress make clear that adults as well as children are suffering mistreatment, and that family members are still being cruelly separated.
It’s clear why the Trump administration did not want members of Congress to be able to take photos in these facilities — and equally clear why Castro felt an obligation to show Americans what’s really going on there.
Published with permission of The American Independent.