Democrats sharpened their attacks on Republican President Donald Trump’shandling of the migrant crisis on the U.S.-Mexico border on Wednesday, charging that immigrants held there were being denied basic human rights and urging the Border Patrol’s leadership be fired.
US lawmakers and civil rights activists who have visited migrant detention centers along the border have described nightmarish conditions marked by overcrowding and inadequate access to food, water and other basic needs.
The Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general on Tuesday published graphic photos of migrant-holding centers in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley crammed with twice as many people as they were meant to hold.
U.S. Representative Joaquin Castro said following a visit to the border this week that detainees there had been not been allowed to bathe for two weeks and had been deprived of medication and locked in areas with broken water faucets.
“It’s clear that their human rights were being neglected,” the Texas Democrat told reporters in a conference call.
Democratic Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called for the acting head of the CBP and other top leaders at the agency to be fired.
Trump, who has made cracking down on illegal immigration a key part of his first-term agenda, said the crisis at the border could be fixed if migrants only came into the United States legally.
“Our Border Patrol people are not hospital workers, doctors or nurses,” Trump wrote on Twitter.
“Great job by Border Patrol, above and beyond. Many of these illegals (sic) aliens are living far better now than where they … came from, and in far safer conditions.”