Updated Jul 1, 2019 - Politics & Policy

Ocasio-Cortez calls conditions in Texas migrant center "horrifying"

US Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) attends with 14 members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus a tour to Border Patrol facilities and migrant detention centers on July 1.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Photo: Luke Montavon/AFP/Getty Images

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) documented in a series of tweets what she described as "horrifying" conditions inside a Texas migrant detention center at a Border Patrol station she visited Monday.

Details: Ocasio-Cortez, who was in a party of Congressional Hispanic Caucus lawmakers, said a woman in the center told her officers had used "psychological warfare" on migrants, "waking them at odd hours for no reason, calling them wh*res. ... Tell me what about that is due to a 'lack of funding?'" she tweeted.

  • In one tweet, Ocasio-Cortez addressed a Customs and Border Protection investigation into a Facebook page where CBP agents joked about migrant deaths and which referenced her Caucus' visit, using derogatory language about the lawmakers. One Facebook post featured a fake image of Ocasio-Cortez being forced to perform sexual acts.
"Just left the 1st CBP facility. I see why CBP officers were being so physically &sexually threatening towards me. Officers were keeping women in cells w/ no water & had told them to drink out of the toilets. This was them on their GOOD behavior in front of members of Congress."

Why it matters: The immigration crisis is becoming the defining 2020 election issue of the moment, Axios' Alexi McCammond notes. Democrats have been critical of conditions inside migrant centers and the Trump administration's handling of child migrants in particular, per McCammond.

The big picture: The lawmakers' visit came as Immigration and Customs Enforcement confirmed in a statement that 30-year-old Yimi Alexis Balderramos-Torres from Honduras died in the hospital Sunday while in the agency's custody. He was found unresponsive at the Houston Contract Detention Facility, ICE said.

The other side: The Trump administration has implemented a hardline policy on migrants at the southern border as it attempts to hold a surge of migrant children and families who've been crossing the border this year.

  • New data shows a decline in migrant numbers in June, which enables acting DHS Secretary Kevin McAleenan to tout that the June 7 deal the U.S. struck with Mexico to stem the flow of migration is working, per Axios' Alayna Treene

Yes, but: Treene notes current and former DHS officials told Axios that border crossings tend to dip in the hotter summer months and that it's nearly impossible to tell if a policy change is effective after only a few weeks, let alone a few months.

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This article has been updated with comment from ICE and fresh remarks by Ocasio-Cortez.

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