Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has done her due diligence as a congressperson, and her firsthand reports regarding what is happening at the border are nothing short of jarring. On Monday, she and other congressional Democrats visited a number of detention centers where immigrants are being held. And following her visit, Ocasio-Cortez described what she saw and heard, saying on Twitter that immigrants are told to drink out of toilets in these holding spaces, that resources are scant, and they could be compared to "concentration camps."
Ocasio-Cortez decided to visit the detention facilities after ProPublica released an investigation, alleging that current and former U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents have a secret Facebook group on which they discuss sexually harassing, degrading, and dehumanizing migrants. According to ProPublica, one "vulgar illustration" depicted a photoshopped Ocasio-Cortez engaged in a sexual act with a detained migrant, while others share stories including an anecdote regarding a 16-year-old Guatemalan migrant who died in May while in custody. “If he dies, he dies," one individual allegedly said of the instance. According to PBS Newshour, CBP has since launched an investigation into the offensive social media posts.
Considering the implications of these claims, Ocasio-Cortez decided to investigate herself. The findings? Well, according to her observations, it's precisely as bad as everyone has made it out to be. "Now I’ve seen the inside of these facilities. It’s not just the kids. It’s everyone. People drinking out of toilets, officers laughing in front of members Congress," Ocasio-Cortez wrote on Twitter. "I brought it up to their superiors. They said 'officers are under stress & act out sometimes.' No accountability."
Ocasio-Cortez retweeted a photo of "the type of toilet [they] saw in the cell," which was a steel toilet with a sink attached on top, with a sign above them that says "potable water." Ocasio-Cortez said on Twitter that the one she saw "the sink portion was not functioning," and detained women said they "were told they could drink out of the bowl."
Additionally, while speaking to one of the detained immigrants, Ocasio-Cortez wrote on Twitter that she was told that the treatment they are receiving is being described as "psychological warfare," including "waking them at odd hours for no reason, calling them wh*res," and denying them access to basic hygienic care.
Ocasio-Cortez posted a photo of a small packet of "shampoo" that one of the detainees had, which was given to each woman to wash her entire body with. Ocasio-Cortez said that some had told her they had not showered in 15 days, and others' hair was "falling out."
"This has been horrifying so far," Ocasio-Cortez wrote on Twitter. "It is hard to understate the enormity of the problem. We’re talking systemic cruelty w/ a dehumanizing culture that treats them like animals."
Romper's request for comment from CBP regarding Ocasio-Cortez's visit and her observations was not immediately returned.
Prior to her visit, according to The New York Times, Ocasio-Cortez had already called the detention centers "concentration camps," and Newsweek reported that more than 140 Holocaust experts "agree" that it is reasonable to refer to them as such.
"What we saw today was unconscionable," Ocasio-Cortez told reporters following her visit, according to ABC 7 Eyewitness News. "No child should ever be separated from their parent. No child should ever be taken from their family. No woman should ever be locked up in a pen when they have done no harm to another human being. They should be given water, they should be given access to basic human rights. And it is a false notion — the idea that we have to choose between people — is a false notion. No child ever has to suffer for the benefit of another."
President Donald Trump has seemed passive at best regarding the increasingly Draconian treatment of immigrant kids and families. “We’re doing a fantastic job, under the circumstances,” he said while addressing the crisis at the border, according to Rolling Stone.
However, that seems unlikely. In September of last year, a memo from the Department of Homeland Security suggested that family separation was an "intended consequence" of the policy, The Intercept reported, as authorities hoped it would possibly "deter" other families from wanting to cross the border.
As Ocasio-Cortez said, it is "unconscionable" that such treatment is and has been happening. Awareness is the first step to change, and on that front, what's required to do so is going to have to be pretty radical.