Escobar: Don’t believe me? Check the record

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El Paso congresswoman stands by allegations of poor care of detained migrants

Rep. Veronica Escobar, D-Texas, second from the right, testifies before the House Oversight Committee hearing on family separation and detention centers, Friday, July 12, 2019 on Capitol Hill in Washington. Also on the panel are from l-r., Rep. Debbie Lesko, R-Ariz., Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

EL PASO, Texas — U.S. Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-Texas) on Friday stood by her criticism of immigration detention centers in the face of denials by Customs and Border Protection officials.

“This is not a ‘he said, she said’ issue. We have reports by the federal Office of the Inspector General documenting conditions on a surprise visit to the facilities,” Escobar said Friday during a press call from Washington, D.C. “If people don’t believe the group of visiting lawyers, they should believe the OIG. … They even called them ‘dangerous conditions.'”

Escobar was referring to statements from lawyers who visited El Paso-area facilities and last month issued scathing statements alleging neglect and “inhumane conditions” endured by detained migrants.

Since then, various CBP and Border Patrol officials have denied allegations ranging from not providing toothpaste and other supplies to detainees, having minors take care of younger children, keeping adult detained in “cold rooms” or denying adults access to shower facilities or drinking water.

Escobar said she and other members of Congress have visited El Paso-area facilities on a number of occasions and they have interviewed women who were detained for longer than 40 days and denied the right to shower.

“We are members of Congress, as part of our oversight we do talk to people in custody. … When we asked the (Border Patrol) station chief if the women had not been able to shower in a long time, he said, ‘no, that’s not true. our policy is that they shower every couple of days.’ But when I asked him to check the log, sure enough, the women were telling the truth,” Escobar said.

The same thing happened at another facility at the Paso del Norte Bridge, she said. “The women told us they were held for more than 40 days in custody, the chief said ‘absolutely not,’ but when we checked the log, the women were telling the truth.”

Escobar said she doesn’t believe the Department of Homeland Security will improve migrant care with more money because it has received “a lot of money,” in addition to their budget.

“Even when you give them more money, things don’t improve,” she said.

On another topic, Escobar restated her denial of a Washington Examiner report that members of her staff have been going to Juarez, Mexico to coach migrants in the Migrant Protection Protocols program on how to answer asylum questions.

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