MEL LEONOR, RICHMOND TIMES DISPATCH
Rep. Abigail Spanberger, D-7th, on Friday traveled with a bipartisan delegation to the country’s southern border and described conditions at immigrant detainment facilities as “overcrowded and overstressed.”
Spanberger said in an interview Monday that she joined over a dozen other members of Congress on a daylong trip that included a border entry point and detention facilities for adults, families and unaccompanied minors.
Spanberger described acute overcrowding at the U.S. Border Patrol Central Processing Center in McAllen, Texas, where she saw hundreds of people, including family units, huddled in emergency Mylar blankets.
“It was inhospitable,” Spanberger said. “The facilities were not built for the way they are being used.”
Spanberger said conditions at a facility for unaccompanied minors in McAllen were less dire and said they were akin to a “summer camp.” At a large holding facility in Donna, Texas, Spanberger said women and children lived together under a permanent tent and described conditions as “clean but very austere.”
“They were being provided for, but it’s still a giant room filled with women and children. It’s not a normal circumstance, by any stretch of the imagination.”
Spanberger called for comprehensive, bipartisan immigration reform from Congress. She said that what she termed the Trump administration’s shifting policies toward asylum-seekers and cutting of aid to Central American nations have compounded problems at the border.
“There is a crisis in terms of the number of people coming across and the lack of capacity that those that are tasked with enforcement have,” Spanberger said. “We’re seeing horrific conditions because their task is to detain individuals and there is no space to house them. … It is a tragic circumstance for everyone involved.”