Pence presses border crisis on visit with Senate Judiciary Committee to RGV

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

"And the facts are that we have a crisis on our southern border that is being driven by human traffickers who are exploiting loopholes in American law to entice vulnerable families to make a long and risky journey north".

Republicans have responded to Democrats' criticism of the detention facility by saying they are unfairly maligning border agents who are doing their best under hard circumstances because of the surge of Central American migrants.

He said they were given three hot meals a day from local restaurants, as well as juice and crackers.

"It's time that we moved passed the harsh rhetoric of the American left and move to the facts", Pence said.

"The president and I are ready to roll our sleeves up and work with men and women in both political parties in the Congress to bring about the changes that will bring an end to this crisis", Pence said. Migrants have been held for weeks or months in facilities not created to hold them that long, drawing increasing criticism from congressional Democrats.

Firing back, a quartet of Republicans from border states told the same panel that Democrats weren't doing anything to ease the crisis and blamed them for posturing that one said was aimed at "Twitter followers and cynical politics".

Rep. Debbie Lasko, R-Ariz., noted that the USA was projected to apprehend a million migrants at the border this year, and that that was equivalent to a congressional district a year.

"These people - I tell you what - I've been with ICE and I've been with Border Patrol a lot", Trump told reporters before departing on a trip to Wisconsin and Ohio.

Pence's comments were at odds with recent statements from Republicans, as well as Trump, who have accused Democrats who have visited similar facilities of exaggerating the poor conditions.

Graham didn't specify how long migrants would be held in detention, instead saying the "Flores decision would be modified so we have more than 20 days".

"My family came as refugees because they are Jews".

Pence says he has pushed for more federal spending to deal with the situation.

He said Trump wanted him there with media cameras to see for themselves how people were being treated. And it's the reason why we demanded that Congress provide $4.6 billion in additional support to Customs and Border Protection.

Pence asked the children if they had food and were being taken care of.

Pence first toured the cavernous facility built in May to handle overcrowding, where 800 people are living. Most were lying on kindergarten-style napping mats on the floor covered with thin, tinfoil blankets. In another room, children, all under 8 years old, were seated in front of a television watching an animated Spanish film. Some said they had been there a month or longer.

The House Oversight Committee hearing Friday on child separation included a host of high-profile witnesses.

Republicans also brushed off claims by Ocasio-Cortez that migrants were being made to drink from toilets, arguing that the stations have sinks with drinking water that are part of a toilet unit. Several children have died after crossing the border and being taken into federal custody.

The Director of Columbia Law School's Immigrants' Rights Clinic Elora Mukherjee spoke about the dozens of detained children whom she and her colleagues interviewed in June at the Clint Border Patrol facility in Texas.



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