A group of pastors touring an El Paso County, Texas migrant detention center Monday have disputed Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's claims that detainees were living in "horrifying" conditions, as reported by The Guardian.
Prompted by reports and accounts by political figures and news outlets, Rev. Samuel Rodriguez set out to investigate the alleged inhumane conditions under which the illegal immigrants were being held. What he said he found was in stark contrast to the picture painted by political figures and media outlets.
"I read the reports, saw the news clips. 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," said Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC) and senior pastor of New Seasons Christian Worship Center in Sacramento.
"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."
Ocasio-Cortez on Monday claimed in a tweet that officers were holding women in cells with no water and had allegedly instructed them to drink from the toilets. Rodriguez said they found no evidence of soiled diapers or lack of basic necessities as reported by touring politicians.
When questioned whether border agents had staged the facility amid the negative reports, Rodriguez said they denied it and some told him that sources of negative coverage "never toured the areas of the facility that we toured," according to Fox.
"We were witnessing the identical conditions the attorneys saw when they toured the facility days earlier," he said, adding that many of the officers were Latinos.
Rodriguez, who advised both President Barack Obama and President George W. Bush on immigration reform, was joined by several other pastors touring the facility.
Rodriguez said he left the facility encouraged by the commitment and dedication of America's Border Patrol and immigration officers but felt that the issue arose from White House administrations.
"What's heart-wrenching is that we have both Republicans and Democrats alike in Congress, who can't come together for the purpose of doing the right thing and finding a solution to our immigration crisis," he said. "Please, President Trump, please White House, work with the Republicans and the Democrats [and] please, please, please, please, Nancy Pelosi, Kevin McCarthy, Mitch McConnell, Chuck Schumer, please come together to solve this crisis, immediately."
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