(CNSNews.com) - Aaron Hull, chief Border Patrol agent in El Paso, appearing on Fox News on Wednesday, disputed allegations of mistreatment of illegal immigrant minors in the custody of the Customs and Border Patrol.
“The allegations are not accurate. It is true that we have more aliens in custody than we were designed to hold, but our facilities are inspected constantly by DHS and CBP oversight entities. For example, the Clinton station, which has made the news recently. Just in the last six months, between DHS and CBP oversight entities, it was inspected in January, February, March, April, June, and again yesterday. The inspection yesterday was by the CBP chief accountability officer under the Flores settlement,” he said.
“It’s not a secret how we’re caring for people, and we’ve said time and time again that we are maintaining with the law, with the court requirements, and with our own agency policies,” Hull said.
“However, our challenge is that we have so many people that we’re apprehending for which we were not designed to hold those people, and our time in custody remains longer, because we cannot hand them over to ICE and Health and Human Services, because they have their own resource constraints, and aliens tend to build up in our custody, and that’s really what we’re about,” he said.
As CNSNews.com previously reported, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) spoke out about the conditions she saw when she toured a CBP facility over the weekend.
“Now I’ve seen the inside of these facilities. It’s not just the kids. It’s everyone. People drinking out of toilets, officers laughing in front of members Congress. I brought it up to their superiors. They said “officers are under stress & act out sometimes.” No accountability,” she tweeted.
“After I forced myself into a cell w/ women&began speaking to them, one of them described their treatment at the hands of officers as “psychological warfare” - waking them at odd hours for no reason, calling them wh*res, etc. Tell me what about that is due to a ‘lack of funding?’” she asked.
“And to these CBP officers saying they felt “threatened” by me - They were literally discussing making a GoFundMe for an officer who attacked my on my tour. They confiscated my phone, and they were all armed. I’m 5’4”. They’re just upset I exposed their inhumane behavior,” AOC tweeted.
Hull disputed the allegations that they’re keeping migrants in “inhumane conditions.”
“Absolutely not. The aliens in our custody have access. There is a drinking fountain in the cell. There are five-gallon jugs outside the cells. We’ve got bottled water. In that particular case, the fountain itself was turned off, but that was an adult female cell. All of the adult females in that cell were aware of the fact, and they even gestured toward the five-gallon jugs outside as well as the fact that we have bottled water outside,” he said.
“We’re not keeping people in inhumane conditions. As I said, we are inspected constantly for the care and custody we provide. We’ve said we’ve told everyone time and time again we were not designed for this. We’ve got people, more people than we can accommodate, but that being said, we are ensuring that their health and safety needs are being met. It is unfortunate that they’re overcrowded, but this is not a secret,” Hull said.
Sen. Joe Kennedy III (D-Mass.) complained that while he was visiting detention facilities in Clint and El Paso, he and other lawmakers were restricted in what they saw and their phones were taken away.
“Spent the morning in TX at Clint and El Paso detention facilities. Big takeaways -- 1) @CBP was very resistant to Congressional oversight. They tried to restrict what we saw, take our phones, block photos and video. Atmosphere was contentious and uncooperative,” Kennedy tweeted on Monday.
Hull explained that under the guidelines of the Flores Settlement, they could not let minors be photographed or videotaped.
“The Clint facility since 2014 has been the El Paso sector hub for unaccompanied alien children. By law, unaccompanied alien children are minors. They cannot consent to be interviewed. They cannot grant consent to be photographed. They are represented as a group by the Flores counsel attorneys,” he said.
“We have to protect them not only from outsiders and people who wish to do them harm, but even from visitors who may wish to speak to them and photograph them. We cannot grant that consent for them, and … these children cannot grant consent. We are required to protect them from visitors. This was explained very clearly throughout the visit,” Hull added.
He said he can’t speak to why there’s so much misinformation and why it’s being spread.
“I can’t speak to others. All I can say is that the U.S. Border Patrol, CBP, DHS, we take this issue very seriously. You’ve seen the statements made by the secretary, by the commissioner, by chief provost. Care and custody. These statements that we’ve made, our treatment of aliens is very important to us,” Hull said.
“We have said time and time again that we do not have enough agents and enough resources to do the mission that we’re having to do between the ports of entry, but the individual men and women of U.S. Border Patrol are committed to providing the best care and custody they can. I can’t speak for the motive behind the allegations. All I can tell you is the truth, because we live it and we work it everyday, and we are inspected constantly,” he said.
Hull said he appreciates the $4.6 billion in emergency spending that the House passed and President Donald Trump signed, but Congress must still address the reasons why the flow continues.
“We’re gonna have to keep spending more and more money to address the symptoms,” he said.
Hull expressed concern about the “the impact and the light in which” the men and women of the Border Patrol are being portrayed.
“They go above and beyond every day, every night to enforce the law and do it professionally, and do it humanely. The individual care that our agents have to provide, we have agents having to change diapers, having to teach children how to brush their teeth, because they’ve never brushed their teeth before,” he said.
“The things that are agents are being asked to do or freely doing on their own are really impressive, even heart-breaking, and then to have their actions characterized in this manner is truly a disservice to them and to the agency,” Hull said.