Updated: In Texas, Pence forced to eat his words on conditions in migrant detention centers

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Updated: Pence visited a second detention center in McAllen on Friday, offering a more realistic assessment. CNN reported, “Pence toured a swelteringly hot room called a sally port with hundreds of men, a strong smell of sweat and overcrowding so extreme there was no room for cots, the migrants left to sleep on concrete beneath mylar blankets.” When asked by CNN if the conditions at the detention center were acceptable, Pence said, “No, it’s not.”

On Friday, Vice President Mike Pence traveled to Texas to meet border security officials at a detention camp – the Donna Processing Center — for asylum-seeking migrants. Pence’s visit to Texas was prompted by photographic and eyewitness reports of inhumane conditions at federal migrant detention camps along the Texas-Mexico border.

“[W]hile we hear some Democrats in Washington D.C. referring to U.S. 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.

Sen. John Cornyn also traveled with Pence to McAllen. Their trip did not include a visit to facilities in Clint or El Paso, Texas, where reports of overcrowding and inadequate food and water first originated. 

Earlier this month, a similar Congressional delegation led by Democrats visited facilities in Clint and El Paso. 

Despite his visit to Texas and renewed calls to work on legislation to solve the border crisis, it doesn’t seem Pence is that interested in working with Democrats. Last month, he told an evangelical crowd it was “morally wrong” to work with Democrats on their immigration policy goals and in April said “walls work,” a measure strictly opposed by Congressional Democrats again and again.

Last week, the Office of Inspector General, a government watchdog, instructed federal agencies handling the border crisis to take steps to alleviate overcrowding at their camps. 

Before Pence’s visit, roughly 100 people organized in McAllen to protest his arrival.

Two Texas House committees also met Friday to discuss what the state can do about the border situation.

“While 2019 apprehensions have increased, the number remains lower than apprehensions from 1977- 2008,” said Democratic state Rep. Rafael Anchia of Dallas. “But I’d like to go further, as America is a country of immigrants. From 1905-1910 over 4.6M immigrants came to America through Ellis Island.” 

Photo by Shannon Finney/Getty Images

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