US VP Mike Pence visits overcrowded migrant camp, deplores 'crisis'

Trump administration agrees to independent investigation of health conditions for children at border facilities

Vice President Mike Pence visited two migrant detention centers here Friday with Republican senators in an effort to defend the administration's handling of the migrant crisis following reports of inhumane conditions at the facilities.

"When the men saw the press arrive, they began shouting and wanted to tell us they'd been in there 40 days or longer".

Pence's visit was the latest move by both political parties to use border trips to highlight their case for who is at fault for the border crisis caused by a surge in Central American migrants and what should be done to remedy it.

"I knew we'd see a system that was overwhelmed", Pence said, according to the pool report.

"They're crowded because we have a lot of people, but they're in good shape", Trump said. Migrants have been held for weeks or months in facilities not created to hold them that long, drawing increasing criticism from congressional Democrats.

"I was not surprised by what I saw", Pence said later at a news conference.

At a protest prior to the lawmakers' visit, migrant children spoke about the conditions they experienced in Border Patrol custody, like having to sleep on a cold floor and eating uncooked food. Squalid conditions at border facilities have drawn widespread concern as the migrant flow across the border has surged to more 100,000 per month this year, at times overwhelming the USA immigration system.

He also defended the job being done by the employees at the detention centers.

"And while we hear some Democrats in Washington, DC, referring to US Customs and Border facilities as 'concentration camps, ' what we saw today was a facility that is providing care that every American would be proud of", Pence said. The men said they were hungry and wanted to brush their teeth.

Vice President Pence visited a migrant detention facility in McAllen, Tex., on July 12.

"My family came as refugees because they are Jews". Pence attributed the difference to the fact that, due to an overflow of illegal immigrants, a temporary facility had to be established. But he conceded that numerous men had not showered for 10 or 20 days because the facility previously didn't have showers.

CBP officials said single adults at the new facility will be provided three daily meals, showers, medical services, laundry, custodial services and temperature controls.

After he toured the first facility, Pence described a much better situation than the one that has been relayed by Democrats and in news reports.

He said it will be created to hold single adults who have crossed the border and have been taken into custody - it will not hold family units or unaccompanied children - and that it will "provide relief for overcrowded Border Patrol" stations as the agency awaits transferring the migrants to Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody.

"Every family I spoke to said they were being well cared for, " Pence said, criticizing Democrats' "harsh rhetoric".

Earlier on Friday in Washington, the House Oversight Committee held a hearing on migrant children who were separated from their parents.

Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., said, "There is no excuse for how we are treating children".

In that interview, Wise described how migrant children are kept in a "kind of cage-like" processing center.

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