March 25, 2023

Ocasio-Cortez finally let into detention camp, reports immigrants drinking from toilets

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The ongoing atrocities that the Trump administration is inflicting on captured migrants along the southern border have been receiving more and more press coverage recently, but it’s still not enough. The media has a responsibility to cover these heinous detention camps around the clock until every last separated family is reunited, children stop dying, and the rampant sexual abuse is stopped. Anything less is a moral dereliction of duty.

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), who has been a strong and consistent voice condemning Trump’s inhumane camps, just concluded a trip to a Customs and Border Protection facility and took to Twitter to share what she witnessed. Her account of the situation unfolding down there is truly stomach-churning.

AOC started out by saying that after seeing what she has, she understands why CBP officers have been “physically & sexually threatening towards her,” a reference to a disturbing Facebook group for Border Patrol officers that was recently exposed. In it, they discuss AOC in explicitly sexual terms, post photoshopped images of her engaged in sexual acts, and fantasize about racistly hurling “burritos” at her. The officers also joke about migrant deaths in an incredibly callous fashion.

Rep. Ocasio-Cortez tweeted that women are being kept in cells without water and are being forced to drink out of toilets just to survive. She pointed out that as terrible as the conditions she witnesses are, they’re just what the CBP was actually comfortable letting her see since they were on their “GOOD behavior” with members of Congress visiting. One shudders to think what happens when they’re not being observed so closely.

AOC went on to describe officers laughing throughout the facility despite the rough conditions. She says she brought it up to their superiors, but they simply dismissed it by saying that the officers in question are “under stress” and “act out sometimes,” an answer which Rep. Ocasio-Cortez characterized as displaying a lack of accountability.

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At one point, AOC “forced” herself into one of the cells and spoke with the women being held inside. The women said the officers were waging “psychological warfare” on them by waking them up at “odd hours for no reason” and calling them “whores” as well as other obscene and degrading terms. The pointless cruelty, AOC pointed out, is a systemic problem that has nothing to do with a lack of funding, which is what many Republicans have been using as an excuse for rampant abuse and poor conditions. This entire system is rotten to its core.

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AOC ended her tweets by stating that she’s headed to another facility now, the one where the Trump administration refused to distribute toothpaste and soap to children. She added that what she has seen so far has been “horrifying,” an apt description given her previous tweets. An immigration lawyer and policy analyst at the American Immigration Council who saw her tweets shared some photographs of what toilet-fountains in other CPB camps look like, and they are jaw-dropping:

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“It is hard to understate the enormity of the problem,” she went on. “We’re talking systemic cruelty w/ a dehumanizing culture that treats them like animals.”

Presumably, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez will relay via Twitter what she finds at her next stop, no matter how horrifying. It’s good that someone is doing this, explaining the shocking reality on the ground to Americans who are largely removed from the situation. Clearly, something must be done and done immediately.

What is happening is not just immoral, it’s downright criminal.

Natalie Dickinson

Natalie is a staff writer for the Washington Press. She graduated from Oberlin College in 2010 and has been freelance blogging and writing for progressive outlets ever since.

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