Trump’s border camp agents ‘drinking and arming themselves’ due to appalling working conditions, damning report reveals

‘With limited access to showers and clean clothing, detainees were wearing soiled clothing for days’

Zamira Rahim
Monday 01 July 2019 17:27
Jewish people block entrance to Trump administration's 'concentration camps' for migrants

Border agents at a Texas facility are arming themselves and drinking because of the pressure caused by poor conditions at the El Paso detention centre.

An internal government report revealed that 756 immigrants were being held at the facility, some in cells which were at five times their capacity.

Over half of those being held were kept outside because of the lack of space and there were only four showers available for the 756 detainees, according to NBC News, which obtained the report.

One cell, designed to hold 35 people, was filled with 155.

The men inside had access to a single toilet and sink and did not have space to lie down and sleep, according to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) report.

“With limited access to showers and clean clothing, detainees were wearing soiled clothing for days or weeks,” the document said.

Temperatures in the cells sometimes exceeded 27C.

A DHS official said agents usually put their weapons in a lockbox before entering holding areas in migrant centres.

But officers remained armed at the El Paso facility because they feared the poor conditions would lead to rioting, according to the DHS report.

Concerns were also reportedly raised in May 2019 over medical risks at the facility, after staff said they took inmates to hospital five times a day.

Outbreaks of flu, chickenpox and scabies were recorded and agents reported that 75 immigrants were treated in a single day for lice.

The report was produced by the DHS’ inspector general and redacts the name of the El Paso centre.

It reveals that morale amongst border patrol agents is in serious decline, due to the poor conditions suffered by inmates.

“The current situation where immigrants are simply giving themselves up to the border patrol [and border patrol must detain] is causing low morale and high anxiety,” the document said.

“They are seeing more drinking, domestic violence and financial problems among their agents,”

Some staff are believed to be seeking early retirement or jobs in other agencies.

The report has been leaked as furious debate continues in Washington over the humanitarian crisis at the US-Mexico border and the Trump administration’s anti-immigration policies.

More than 30 Jewish protesters were arrested on Monday outside a New Jersey detention centre which they likened to a “concentration camp”.

In recent weeks, reports have surfaced of migrants being held in cages of chain-link fencing, sleeping on concrete and covered with blankets made of aluminium foil, at migrant detention centres.

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Meanwhile hundreds of migrant children were transferred out of a filthy US Border Patrol station in Texas where they had been detained for weeks without access to soap, clean clothes or adequate food.

But Donald Trump, who campaigned heavily against immigration during his 2016 presidential bid, has promised to intensify the crackdown.

Writing on Twitter last week, he said the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) would soon begin removals of people living illegally in the US.

The raids are expected to occur after the 4 July holiday.

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