Officials Accuse Ocasio-Cortez of 'Misinforming' Public on Immigration Facility
AOC is accused of spreading misinformation about conditions in El Paso border station
Current and former immigration officials have blasted Democrat Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's high-profile accusations of cruel treatment at a Texas border facility, rejecting her claim that agents forced detainees to “drink out of the toilets” and slamming the celebrity lawmaker for "misinforming" the public.
Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., traveled to the border on Monday with almost a dozen members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.
She later blasted border officials as “violent” and “inhumane” -- while claiming agents forced migrant women and children being detained in cells to drink toilet water.
“They are not drinking out of the toilet—no Border Patrol agent is going to make anyone drink out of the toilet,” former U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) director Tom Homan said on Fox News' “America’s Newsroom” Tuesday.
“It’s just ridiculous on its face.”
Homan alleged that Ocasio-Cortez was “clearly, intentionally misinforming the American public.”
“She’s lost all credibility,” he said.
Following Ocasio-Cortez's claims that detention centers at the border are deplorable "concentration camps," a group of Latino pastors decided to visit the facilities themselves.
The pastors' accounts of the border facilities were so far removed from AOC's claims that they even commended federal agents for their efforts in keeping conditions there humane.
Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, a pastor in the group, visited the same facility as AOC and described the conditions as "drastically different" to the radical Democrat's claims.
"I read the reports, saw the news clips," Rodriguez said.
"I just wanted to see what was actually happening in order to better enable our efforts to find a fair and a just solution to our broken immigration system.
"To my surprise, I saw something drastically different from the stories I’ve been hearing in our national discourse.
"Even as a veteran of immigration advocacy in the U.S., I was shocked at the misinformation of the crisis at the border."
"We found no soiled diapers, no deplorable conditions, and no lack of basic necessities," Rodriguez stated.
According to Fox News, Homan suggested she was simply referring to the “apparatus” in holding cells that have an attached sink and toilet, but two separate water lines.
“You’re drinking out of the same apparatus, the same piece of equipment, but there are two separate water lines—one going to the commode, one going to the sink,” Homan explained.
“... [T]hey are designed that way to try to save space and make it more comfortable for the people who are in those facilities.”
Images of that "apparatus" were circulating on social media as Ocasio-Cortez critics challenged her account.
View this post on Instagram
“NO ONE is drinking TOILET WATER,” said a @customsborder official in response to @repocasiocortez’ claim that asylum-seekers are being forced to drink from a toilet They’re drinking POTABLE WATER from a sink ATTACHED to a toilet It’s what you would find in ANY MUNICIPAL JAIL across the United States” 🙄 #Facts #GooseGander #SeeLinkInBio
Ocasio-Cortez, though, maintained that while she did see the combination toilet-sink facilities, the station had only one of them, and the sink portion wasn't working.
“So the women were told they could drink out of the bowl,” she tweeted.
This was in fact the type of toilet we saw in the cell.— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) July 1, 2019
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
Homan acknowledged that the facilities “are jails” and “were not built for women and children,” saying that's why agents have been "begging" Congress for more funding for beds "so these families can be moved into a proper facility with proper care.”
Here’s another photo from inside taken by @JoaquinCastrotx, where we’re trying to comfort women trapped in cells.— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) July 2, 2019
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
Former acting ICE director Ron Vitiello also pushed back on Ocasio-Cortez’s claims.
“I have never seen anything like that,” Vitiello said on “Fox & Friends.”
“And look, she was there for three minutes and now she’s an expert on what this facility looks like?”
Brian Hastings, chief of law enforcement operations at U.S. Border Patrol, similarly defended the agents.
“We don’t treat people that way. We provide fresh water. We provide food. We provide sanitary items as well as items for bathing and personal hygiene,” Hastings said on Fox News' “The Story” Monday night.
But a Department of Homeland Security official told Fox News on Tuesday that CBP agents “are not equipped for the sheer volume of people” in facilities.
“HHS is backed up with children, so there is a real backlog at the CBP facilities there,” the official explained.
“It’s a real problem. The supplemental funding will help, but it’s a band-aid on a much bigger problem.”
The official was referring to a recently passed funding bill for the crisis at the border.
Ocasio-Cortez first tweeted about the conditions at the facilities on Monday.
“Just left the 1 st CBP facility. I see why CBP officers were being so physically & sexually threatening towards me,” she tweeted Monday.
"Officers were keeping women in cells w/ no water & had told them to drink out of the toilets.
"This was them on their GOOD behavior in front of members of Congress."
Just left the 1st CBP facility.— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) July 1, 2019
I see why CBP officers were being so physically &sexually threatening towards me.
Officers were keeping women in cells w/ no water & had told them to drink out of the toilets.
This was them on their GOOD behavior in front of members of Congress.
The visit to the border station has been the subject of fierce controversy.
Not only are Democratic lawmakers and immigration officials at odds over Ocasio-Cortez's claims about the conditions, but witnesses told The Washington Examiner that the lawmaker was "screaming" at the agents and behaving in a "threatening" manner.
Ocasio-Cortez, seemingly in response to the report, tweeted: "They confiscated my phone, and they were all armed. I’m 5’4.”
"They’re just upset I exposed their inhumane behavior."
Ocasio-Cortez’s visit and allegations came after the discovery of a secret Facebook group where Border Patrol agents allegedly posted vulgar jokes and images about her, as well as illegal immigrants.
The website ProPublica posted the story Monday headlined “Inside the Secret Border Patrol Facebook Group Where Agents Joke About Migrant Deaths and Post Sexist Memes.”
The showers at Clint Border Patrol Station. pic.twitter.com/z0ATi67q1i— Joaquin Castro (@JoaquinCastrotx) July 2, 2019
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
In one post reported by ProPublica, a group member referenced the visits by Democrats and encouraged an officer to throw a “burrito at these b-----s.”
Other posts included a vile, fake photo illustration of Ocasio-Cortez engaged in oral sex with President Trump.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection condemned the posts.
“These posts are completely inappropriate and contrary to the honor and integrity I see—and expect—from our agents day in and day out," U.S. Border Patrol Chief Carla Provost said in a statement to Fox News.
"Any employees found to have violated our standards of conduct will be held accountable.”
Ocasio-Cortez has since cited the Facebook group and her visit in railing against the agency, which she described as "rogue."
When you pair:— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) July 2, 2019
- 9,500 current + former CBP officers are part of a violently racist & sexually violent secret Facebook group
- Corroborating accounts of abuse
- CBP couldn’t control their own officers for a Congressional tour
What else do you call that but a rogue agency?
“They’re threatening violence on members of Congress,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted.
“How do you think they’re treating caged children+families?”