Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said Monday that illegal immigrants and asylum-seekers detained at a pair of U.S. Customs and Border Protection stations she visited are ‘drinking out of toilets’ – a claim an agency official quickly denied.
Speaking outside a Border Patrol station in Clint, Texas, as she left she raged: ‘There’s abuse in these facilities.
‘This was them knowing a congressional visit was coming. This was CBP on their best behavior. Telling people to drink out of the toilet.’
AOC said she ‘forced’ herself into a cell with detainees and one woman told her officers were waging ‘psychological warfare’. The woman said they were often called ‘wh***s’ by the agents.
The congresswoman claimed officers laughed in response to migrants drinking out of toilets.
The inflammatory statement – including the suggestion that she witnessed toilet-drinking herself – came hours after a news story established the existence of a private Facebook group where current and former CBP agents distributed lewd illustrations of the Democratic socialist congresswoman from New York.
But a CBP official said Monday in the early evening that plumbing fixtures at the locations Ocasio-Cortez visited are standard-issue jail appliances with sinks that dispense safe drinking water attached to toilets in a single unit.
‘Of course that’s what we have,’ the official said. ‘No one is drinking toilet water. They’re drinking potable water from the sink attached to the toilet. It’s what you would find in every municipal jail in the United States.’
A photo filed in a federal court case in 2016 illustrates the setup in a Tucson, Arizona CBP holding facility. The official confirmed that it’s identical to what detainees at Texas border stations have access to.
After this story was published, Ocasio-Cortez confirmed on Twitter that ‘[t]his was in fact the type of toilet we saw in the cell.’
She also claimed ‘there was just one’ in the cell she saw, and the sink portion was not functioning,’ adding that Rep. Ayanna Pressley ‘smartly tried to open the faucet, and nothing came out. So the women were told they could drink out of the bowl.’
Her other tweets were contradictory, with some suggesting she witnessed guards offering a toilet as a source of drinking water and others intimating that she heard stories from detainees.