“There’s a crisis here.”
The Customs and Border Protection agency has worked to hide from Congress members the fact of a growing health crisis at the Southern border, the Washington Examiner reported Friday based on the assessment of a government contractor.
Last month a migrant facility at Antelope Wells, North Mexico, faced an outbreak of Legionnaire’s disease. Worried about letting migrants use indoor toilets under these conditions, the staff contracted Tricia Elbrock — the owner of septic service provider Elbrock Water Systems — to set up two Porta Potties, which she believed to be insufficient to address the crisis. She told the Examiner that her recommendation was for the facility to install at least 15 units.
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The underlying problem, though, was that the facility itself was overcrowded. “That facility can’t handle that many people. They’re gonna be overwhelmed,” Elbrock said.
Four days after completing the installation, though, she was summoned back. A group of Congressional members, including members of the Hispanic Caucus, announced that they will be traveling to examine conditions at a couple of the facilities in the area, including Antelope Wells. She was asked to come back to handle a massive clean-up before the delegation arrives.
When she returned, her team was “overrun,” she said. The portable toilets were cluttered with used toilet paper and refuse. “They just threw [toilet paper] on the floor there and piled it up,” she said. “That was a concern of ours handling the waste on that toilet paper.”
She had to dress up her team in full regalia: masks, gloves, suits, breathing devices, and even preemptive Hepatitis shots.
The following week, she said, hundreds of immigrants from Antelope Wells were transferred to a nearby facility Lordsburg, which then asked her for four portable toilets as well. “And I said, ‘Four’s not gonna do it.’ It’s like, what a nasty situation we’re gonna have here,” she said.
She complied despite her misgivings but refused to haul off the waste water from the two facilities, which she worried could be infected with Legionnaire’s.
“It’s totally trash, we’re going to pull out,” she told the Examiner. “We’re a small, family-owned business down here and maybe they need to get someone bigger than we are.”
“There’s a crisis here — the influx of people. These little counties and towns cannot handle that mass,” Elbrock said.
To her, the proper response to the overcrowding is a border wall to prevent the influx of migration. But critics of the wall — and of President Donald Trump’s restrictive immigration policy — argue that the the overflow of migrant camps is the result of caps imposed by the administration on the amount of asylum applications the CBP is allowed to process. As a result, argue critics, immigrants who cross the border can find themselves waiting for months in migrant facilities ill-prepared to support them.
However, supporters of the president claim that a harder line on immigration would actually protect the well-being of potential immigrants. Deterrence can bring to a decrease in the number of people who would undertake the dangerous journey in the first place and would alleviate the pressure in camps, streamlining the process of registering migrants with true asylum needs.
Worth noting: The Examiner’s report was based solely on the account relayed by Elbrock.