The Vice President did not speak to a single migrant man being held at the detention center
Vice President Mike Pence visited an overcrowded federal detention center on Friday in Texas, and got to see first-hand the abysmal conditions the men imprisoned were living in. Unfortunately, he didn’t bother even speaking to any of the men there before leaving.
During his visit, border agents wore face masks to help combat the “horrendous” smell, as described by reporters who were also in attendance. A group of migrant men held behind a chainlink fence kept shouting “No shower, no shower!” to Pence and the cameras.
BREAKING: New video shows shows severe overcrowding of men in cages at Texas detainment facility during VP Pence’s visit Friday. pic.twitter.com/OSlwz4yZBZ
— NBC News (@NBCNews) July 13, 2019
Pence was accompanied by Sen. Lindsey Graham and officials from the Department of Homeland Security. Pence made a statement about the crisis at the border, but he didn’t mean the inhumane conditions of detention centers or the abysmal immigration and asylum process the U.S. government is currently mandating.
He says the “crisis is real,” but his version of “crisis” is not migrants being forced to drink toilet water and infants kept in cages wearing filthy, weeks-old diapers. He means it’s a “crisis” that anyone should come here to seek asylum and cross the border here at all.
“But what’s not real,” he said, “is the slanderous allegations of heartless mistreatment by Customs and Border Protection. I can see it in your eyes, I can hear it in your voice, about the care and concern.”
Perhaps by “slanderous,” he means “well documented by physicians, lawyers, and members of Congress who have seen and inspected those kept in these detention centers firsthand? Because every one of these people has seen the same thing, and he’s the only one pretending his administration isn’t perpetuating a concentration camp system.
Which, given his high rank and responsibility within the Trump administration, is altogether not surprising. But his words are still impactful on everyone who’s heard them, and people on social media aren’t hesitating to call him out.
This image will go down in history. New video shows shows Mike Pence callously observing and turning his back on severe overcrowding of men in cages at a detainment facility in Texas.
— Shannon Watts (@shannonrwatts) July 13, 2019
Look at the absolute cowardice on display here. Not one of these men – @VP, @LindseyGrahamSC, @SenMikeLee @SenThomTillis -have the moral courage or common human decency to actually walk up to the human beings on the other side of the fence and talk to them.
A pathetic display. https://t.co/RXGS6ohE05
— Chris Hayes (@chrislhayes) July 13, 2019
Mike Pence’s understanding of Christianity did not allow him to dine alone with women but does allow him to stare smugly at abused, desperate men and look away. pic.twitter.com/cOoHGBFX3A
— Anand Giridharadas (@AnandWrites) July 14, 2019
Actually frightening to see a man who proclaims to be such a great Christian looking over refugees and immigrants in cages like an SS guard looking over a fresh batch of Jews, political prisoners, & other undesirables fresh out off the train. Know this: his soul is gone. Utterly
— lil sis (@THIS_lil_sis) July 14, 2019
This is the excellent care? What is wrong with you? pic.twitter.com/h5jimIGhmK
— Ashley Phillips (@cankles4days) July 14, 2019
— Glennon Doyle (@GlennonDoyle) July 13, 2019
You and your Republican Senators were on camera. We all could see you. None of you even talked to the men in the cages. You barely looked at them. I’m sure you could smell and hear though. Why don’t you describe that? https://t.co/opYz60Lvp1
— Joy Reid (@JoyAnnReid) July 13, 2019
The horrifying conditions that have broken hearts all over the country (for those who actually have them) didn’t appear to phase Pence. “I couldn’t be more impressed with the compassionate work that our Customs and Border Protection are doing here at this border facility,” he said.
This goes entirely against reports from others who have seen the facilities firsthand, including one doctor, Dolly Lucio Sevier, who described the conditions last month. She said the youngest child there was two and a half months old and of the 39 children she assessed, all showed signs of trauma. Some teenagers even told her that they hadn’t been given access to wash their hands once since entering the facility and teen mothers weren’t able to wash their children’s bottles. There was reportedly no developmentally appropriate pureed food for infants either.
The conditions and treatment of border agents have been directly responsible for the deaths of children and toddlers.
“I watched my baby girl die, slowly, and painfully, just a few months before her second birthday,” Yazmin Juarez said through an interpreter, later crying in front of the subcommittee. Her daughter died weeks after they were released from ICE custody. https://t.co/H3HOd8Uxd3
— CNN (@CNN) July 14, 2019
“The conditions within which they are held could be compared to torture facilities,” Sevier wrote in the declaration.
Pence says he was sent to the facilities by Donald Trump so “the American people could see what’s happening here.” Reporters were not allowed to speak to children or adults being held. He stands by his statement that those being kept in custody are being “well cared for,” according to NBC News.
If the conditions are so pleasant, perhaps Pence — or any member of his administration stay there — should pull up a foil blanket on a slab of cement for a while and be treated the same way migrants are, so they can really refute the rhetoric of literally everyone else who has entered these detention centers.
He and his boss might be able to forget what they’ve seen behind these chainlink fences, but history will not.
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