Activists hold a protest against the treatment and conditions of children in immigration detention outside U.S. Customs and Border Protection's Border Patrol station facilities in Clint, Texas
Activists hold a protest against the treatment and conditions of children in immigration detention outside U.S. Customs and Border Protection's Border Patrol station facilities in Clint, Texas

Updated July 4, 2019, 12:36 a.m.

A day after photographs were released showing appalling conditions at two Texas migrant detention centers, U.S. President Donald Trump said many of the migrants are far safer and “living far better now than where they came from.”

Trump blamed the problem on what he called the “Democrats bad immigration laws.”

As the United States prepared to celebrate its independence day holiday, Sen. Chuck Schumer, the top Democrat in the Senate, suggested Trump needs to read the poem written on New York City’s Statue of Liberty, which in part reads: “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”

“These are human beings. Coming to American in search of a better life,” Schumer wrote in response to Trump’s tweets. “It’s time he remembered what America was all about.”

Trump also offered his latest praise for the border patrol agency, saying it is doing a “great job,” but not mentioning the scandal in which current and former agents are accused of racist and sexist Facebook posts about migrants and Hispanic lawmakers.

Inspector general report

A report Tuesday by the Department of Homeland Security inspector general describes appalling conditions and overcrowding at migrant detention centers in Texas. A top manager at one of the facilities said he fears for the security of his staff, calling the situation a “ticking time bomb.”

The report includes numerous pictures of people in cages lying on bare concrete floors with nothing to do, men crowded in a room with nowhere to sit, and men and women wearing surgical masks reaching out to the photographers for attention.

One photo shows 88 men packed inside a room designed to hold 40 with one pressing a cardboard sign reading “help” against the window.

The report says some migrants deliberately stop up toilets with socks and blankets just to get the chance to get out of the cages while the toilets are fixed.

The inspector general’s report says the opportunity for personal hygiene is scarce and many migrants became ill and constipated from the diet of bologna sandwiches that they are given.

FILE - Department of Homeland Security (DHS) acting Secretary Kevin McAleenan speaks during a news conference in Washington, June 28, 2019.
FILE - Department of Homeland Security (DHS) acting Secretary Kevin McAleenan speaks during a news conference in Washington, June 28, 2019.

American Association of Pediatrics report

In a separate report, the incoming head of the American Association of Pediatrics, Dr. Sara Goza, toured a facility last week and spoke of the lingering stench of human waste and sweat in the air. She also showed children’s drawings showing people held in cages.

Earlier this week, Trump signed a $4.6 billion package to improve conditions at migrant facilities, days after critics assailed officials for not providing soap and toothbrushes to those being held.

Also Wednesday, acting Homeland Security secretary Kevin McAleenan ordered an immediate investigation into the alleged Facebook group posting racist, sexist, and violent comments about migrants and Latin American lawmakers.

McAleenan said “any employee found to have compromised the public’s trust in our law enforcement mission will be held accountable.” He said those in the Facebook group “do not represent the men and women of the Border Patrol” or the Homeland Security agency.

A ProPublica investigative report said the Facebook posts included sexually explicit images and remarks mocking migrant deaths, including the highly publicized deaths of an El Salvador man and his 23-month-old daughter who drowned in the Rio Grande while trying to cross the river between Mexico and the United States.

The Facebook group is called “I’m 10-15,” the Border Patrol’s code for “Aliens in Custody.”

ProPublica said the agents on Facebook reacted to the death of a 16-year-old boy who died in Border Patrol custody by saying, “Oh, well. If he dies, he dies.”

They accused Democrats and liberals of possibly faking the photograph of the man and his daughter lying face down in the river, saying they have never seen “floaters” look so “clean.”

A portion of a report from government auditors reveals images of people penned into overcrowded Border Patrol facilities, photographed Tuesday, July 2, 2019, in Washington.
A portion of a report from government auditors reveals images of people penned into overcrowded Border Patrol facilities, photographed, July 2, 2019, in Washington.

'Appalling' conditions

Other alleged remarks included plans to throw burritos at Hispanic members of Congress and describing female members in sexist, profane language.

New York Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is a favorite target of the group. One doctored photograph shows her performing a sex act on Trump.

“How on Earth can CPB’s culture be trusted to care for refugees humanely?” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted in response.

Border Patrol chief Carla Provost says the Facebook posts are “completely inappropriate and contrary to the honor and integrity I see and expect from our agents day in and day out.”

She also said any employees found to be a part of the group will be held accountable.

According to the Customs and Border Protection agency, employees are forbidden from making “abusive, derisive, profane, or harassing statements, gestures” or displays of hatred based on a person’s race, color, religion, sex, or sexual orientation.