Witnesses said Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez screamed at agents during a tour of Border Patrol facilities in Texas on Monday afternoon.
Two people present at the El Paso facility told the Washington Examiner that the freshman congresswoman left the group of 14 House Democrats taking part in the tour to sit with a migrant family in a nearby holding area. When Ocasio-Cortez rejoined the group, she refused to tour the facility and shouted at federal law enforcement agents in a “threatening manner,” the unnamed sources said.
“She comes out screaming at our agents, right at the beginning [of the tour] … Crying and screaming and yelling,” one of the witnesses said.
“The agents, they wanted to respond, but they held back because she’s a congressional delegate. But when you have someone yelling at you in a threatening manner … ” the witness added. “They were like, ‘Hey, you need to kinda step back.’”
The incident reportedly took place in front of approximately 40 people.
Tweets that Ocasio-Cortez posted during the tour appeared to partly corroborate the witness’ accounts. However, she described herself simply as having “brought it up to their superiors,” with “it” being the agents’ behavior.
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.
I brought it up to their superiors. They said “officers are under stress & act out sometimes.” No accountability.
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) July 1, 2019
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was outraged at Border Patrol all day
In a series of real-time tweets during the tour the New York Democrat shared what she was learning with her 4.6 million followers. According to her account: “Officers were keeping women in cells w/ no water & had told them to drink out of the toilets.”
She also accused border patrol officers of behaving in a “physically” and “sexually threatening” manner toward her.
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.
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) July 1, 2019
“This was them on their GOOD behavior in front of members of Congress,” she said.
Ocasio-Cortez linked her accusations to a ProPublica report published earlier in the day that found Border Patrol agents were making crude jokes about her in a private Facebook group, including sharing an illustration of her giving oral sex to a detained migrant.
In a second tweet from her Border Patrol tour, Ocasio-Cortez said she had now “seen the inside of these facilities,” and was able to report: “It’s not just the kids. It’s everyone. People drinking out of toilets, officers laughing in front of members Congress.”
“I brought it up to their superiors,” she continued. “They said ‘officers are under stress & act out sometimes.’ No accountability.”
She wasn’t alone
Other Democrats who were on the tour later tweeted less dramatic, but still bleak, assessments of what they saw. Rep. Madeleine Dean of Pennsylvania said women were separated from their families and not allowed to shower for weeks. She called the situation a “human rights crisis.”
Just left the first CBP facility. The conditions are far worse than we ever could have imagined.
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.
This is a human rights crisis.
— Congresswoman Madeleine Dean (@RepDean) July 1, 2019
Rep. Joe Kennedy of Massachusetts complained that Border Patrol was “very resistant to Congressional oversight.”
Spent the morning in TX at Clint and El Paso detention facilities. Big takeaways — 1) @CBP was very resistant to Congressional oversight. They tried to restrict what we saw, take our phones, block photos and video. Atmosphere was contentious and uncooperative.
— Rep. Joe Kennedy III (@RepJoeKennedy) July 1, 2019
The Border Patrol has lately become a lightning rod in the culture wars over President Donald Trump’s response to a surge of immigrant families arriving at the U.S. border from Central America. Ocasio-Cortez has been a leading critic of the president’s policies, railing against them in emotional and often inaccurate terms.
Since the Border Patrol announced last Tuesday that Commissioner John Sanders was resigning, scrutiny of conditions at border detention camps has only increased. However, as CNN anchor John King suggested last week, Trump’s immigration policy is arguably not so different from that of former President Barack Obama. The Associated Press recently noted in a fact check that Obama operated and in some cases built the detention centers liberals are now bemoaning.
Amid the uproar, Congress on Thursday passed a $4.6 billion bill to fund humanitarian aid for migrant children. But Ocasio-Cortez joined a handful of other Democrats in opposing the legislation for fear the money would go toward enforcement of immigration law.
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- Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez at the southern border on June 26, 2018.: Twitter