Things That Matter

Amid Accusations Of Detained Women Drinking From Toilets And Sexual Abuse, Trump Says His Guards ‘Love’ Detainees

There are now multiple reports on the conditions in migrant detention centers housing children and adults: overcrowding, people sleeping on floors using ‘solar blankets’ for warmth in centers that were only designed for adult men staying from just a few hours to no more than seventy-two hours, not weeks and months on end.

The drinking water fountains in these facilities are a standard-issue, combination drinking-fountain, and toilet unit. 

The fountain makes up the top portion of the toilet where people urinate and defecate.

This way anyone in need of drinking water must lean over the top of the toilet to reach the fountain in a cell designed for one or two.

This morning in a press conference on the White House lawn, the president accused Alexandra Ocasio Cortez, who visited detention centers in Clint and El Paso Texas last week of lying about conditions. His accusation was made in response to claims AOC made about migrants drinking from toilets at detention centers in her testimony to the Senate Oversight Committee.

‘To have Ocasio say that they’re drinking out of toilets? She made that up, okay?’

‘That’s a phony story. She made it up,’ said the president to reporters.

Trump also stated that ICE agents ‘love’ migrants.

‘I have been with ICE and I’ve been with border patrol a lot,’ he said. ‘They love those people coming across the border. They love them, and I’ve seen it. They love them.’ 

While some are citing inconsistencies in AOC’s Tweets about detention center access to clean drinking water, it is clear that the combination drinking-fountain toilet, and use of the word “toilet” to describe it, could mean that both the president, who has not visited the detention centers, and AOC’s war of words is a matter of semantics.

On July 1, after leaving one detention center, AOC, did report that she was told by detainees that on occasions when the sinks do not work guards have told them to drink from the toilet bowl itself.

Congresswoman Madeline Dean who also toured the migrant detention centers reported similar conditions: “15 women in their 50s-60s sleeping in a small concrete cell, no running water. Weeks without showers. All of them separated from their families.”

As did Congresswoman Judy Chu who reported that women were told by guards to drink from the toilet.

In an interview that aired on NPR’s Fresh Air Tuesday, national immigration reporter for the New York Times, Catilin Dickerson, did not discuss drinking water but she did detail the unsanitary conditions in the centers, or hieleras, as they are referred to by migrants, for their uncomfortably cold temperatures inside.

In the interview with WHYY’s Dave Davies, she discussed how she was told that the temperatures are kept low to prevent the spread of communicable diseases, but Dickerson believes there’s another reason for the low temperatures has to do with the smell created by bad conditions and overcrowding:

“I know that one other factor the agents consider is the smell. These facilities tend to smell really, really bad, and they smell even worse when the temperatures are higher because people aren’t showering. And so their body odor gets worse, and I think that’s a factor as well. And we’re not talking about your standard-issue body odor. I mean, again, it’s emanating from people who haven’t been allowed to shower for weeks, and so agents describe the smell actually seeping into their clothes so that when they go home or they go out into the community, people don’t want to stand near them because that’s how powerful it is.”

It remains unclear whether the president’s attack on AOC is a matter of semantics regarding the combination drinking-fountain toilet.

Or, whether his reasons for accusing AOC of lying is a tactic designed to distract from the undeniably terrible conditions and overcrowding in the detention centers. What is clear is how this issue and AOC have become a Twitter lightning rod.

Brian Tyler Cohen responded to AOC’s  Congress Oversight Committee testimony by quoting her, and at least one hundred people responded in just a couple of hours.

 “@AOC: “I believe these women. I believed the canker sores that I saw in their mouths. I believed when they said they were sleeping on concrete floors. And what was worse was the fact that there were American flags hanging all over these facilities.”

Aaron Brodock responded, “That’s what happens when you break the law and enter the country illegally you get held in a detention center not a 5-star hotel! Don’t break the law, don’t enter our country illegally = no detention center it’s really quite simple.”

Many have responded to the situation saying that it’s not illegal to seek asylum.

This, however, women drinking out of toilets, is an absolute disgrace.

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