WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump on Wednesday defended the treatment of migrants at border detention facilities amid reports of unsanitary and crowded conditions.
Trump tweeted that, "Many of these illegals aliens are living far better now" than they were where they came from, and said, "No matter how good things actually look," Democrats who visit Border Patrol facilities "will act shocked & aghast at how terrible things are" because they're seeking political gain.
Trump says if migrants are unhappy with the conditions, "just tell them not to come. All problems solved!"
The Trump administration has come under intense scrutiny in recent days amid reports of migrants, including children, being held in appalling conditions. Conditions were described by lawmakers and U.S. government inspectors who have visited them.
A report published Tuesday from the Department of Homeland Security's Office of Inspector General details dangerously overcrowded and unhygienic conditions at five processing centers in Texas where Customs and Border Protection detained migrants.
Democrats were outraged. Rep. Elijah Cummings, who chairs theHouse Oversight and Reform Committee, asked Kevin McAleenan, acting Homeland Security secretary, and Mark Morgan, acting CBP commissioner, to testify before Congress on July 12.
"The Trump administration's actions at the southern border are grotesque and dehumanizing," Cummings said in a statement Tuesday.
In the Homeland Security report, the government watchdog found that CBP held 8,000 detainees at the time that inspectors visited the five facilities. Almost half had been detained for longer than the allowed 72hour limit.
The report found "at risk" populations — children and families — were also being held for much longer than allowed.
According to CBP data cited in the report, 31% of the 2,669 children held at the facilities at the time had been there for longer than 72 hours. In other developments Wednesday on immigration, White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham blasted a federal judge in Seattle as being "at war with the rule of law" after she blocked a White House plan that would have detained thousands of migrants indefinitely while they wait for their asylum cases to be heard.
"The decision only incentivizes smugglers and traffickers, which will lead to the further overwhelming of our immigration system by illegal aliens," Grisham said.
The order issued Tuesday by Judge Marsha Pechman blocked an order issued by Attorney General William Barr that would have denied some asylum seekers a bail hearing.
Pechman said that was unconstitutional. She said migrants seeking asylum must be granted a bail hearing within seven days or be released.
A total of 29,153 undocumented migrants were apprehended last month, up more than 200% from June 2018.
This report includes material from the Washington Post, Bloomberg and CQRoll Call.