(CNSNews.com) - CBP Deputy Commissioner Robert Perez told “Fox & Friends” on Tuesday that all Border Patrol facilities have access to fresh water, countering claims made by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (D-N.Y.) migrants are being forced to drink out of the toilet.
“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,” AOC tweeted Monday.
“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.
“I can tell you with the utmost confidence that the migrants, anyone and everyone in our custody at all of our facilities have ready access to fresh water,” Perez said when asked to comment on AOC’s claims.
“They have access to consumables, and the standards that we apply to make sure that on a recurring basis that not only they have access to the types of consumables and fresh water they would need, but even in between, if they make those requests, there are agents and officers at the ready to provide those types of requests to them,” he said.
Perez also said he’s never heard that type of allegation made in the 26 years he’s been in the business. Still, he said that the allegations AOC made would be investigated.
“Nevertheless, I think I have to emphasize to you, Griff, just like any other allegation of misconduct, if there is an allegation made of some sort of misconduct made by one of our agents or officers, we take those allegations very, very seriously,” Perez said.
“And so we report those allegations to our Office of Professional Responsibility, our DHS Office of Inspector General to run the facts aground, and so if there’s anything factual to any of these types of allegations, we will get to the truth of it and hold people to account, but again, I’ve never heard anything like that before,” he said.
“It was really bothersome, especially as a female, because she walks away from the group - some witnesses told the Washington Examiner - and she goes and starts talking to a family, and the family tells her that this is psychological warfare and that you guys are interrupting their sleep for no reason, called them names - names I can’t say on tv - and AOC said she was walking through, and some of the officers were laughing, having a conversation,” Fox News host Ainsley Earhardt said.
“It looked like they were laughing at her. Is there truth to this? Because then she also talked about how she was upset there’s a secret Facebook group where Border Agents are saying inappropriate things about her, putting up some caricatures of her, and some graphic vulgar jokes. Is that happening? And if so, what’s going to happen to these folks that are doing all of this?” Earhardt asked.
Perez said CBP facilities were never designed to “hold migrants for the duration that we’ve had to hold them and in the numbers at times 200, 300, 400 percent beyond capacity.”
“We’ve been speaking to this crisis for the better part of 18 months, highlighting the legal framework that need be changed and the resourcing that we need to get the people out of our custody as quickly as possible,” he said.
“The other point you made, or the question you asked regarding the Facebook page, again, that speaks to what I said before. We have very clear standards of conduct in CBP. We also have very clear policies with respect to social media. These are policies that are longstanding,” Perez said.
“The social media policy was just put out last year. The standards of conduct have been in effect for decades refreshed more than half a dozen years ago. These are standards very well known amongst our agents and officers,” he added.
“We do not tolerate any type of misconduct of this nature, but we will first have to investigate the allegations, get to the bottom of the facts, and if we find that factually there is misconduct, people will be held to account,” Perez added.
He said there are “still well over 11,000 people in custody.”
“What that means is, we consider being over custody anything over 4,000, okay? That is already a crisis,” the deputy commissioner said.
“If the Four Seasons can hold 4,000, and I put 11,000 in the Four Seasons hotel, they’d complain about the sanitation. They’d complain about the food. They’d complain about the accommodations, because it’s not equipped to handle it, and all you’ve done for the past year and a half is ask for more help, and all Congress has done is nothing until July 1st, and then they’re going to come down and condemn you for the facilities and accommodations. You can’t win,” Fox News host Brian Kilmeade said.
Perez said before they got the supplemental funding, CBP built “additional soft-sided facilities in both … the RGB sector and in El Paso as well to again, deal with that very overcrowding, and the point I wanted to make is this,” said Perez.
“Despite the allegations of misconduct that are getting a lot of attention that again we take very seriously, this is not representative of the 60,000 men and women of this agency. This agency prides itself on its professionalism, on its vigilance, on its integrity, and the acts and or potential misconduct of a few is not indicative of the over and above professionalism being put forth by our front-line agents and officers and all our employees every day to deal with this crisis and to do their job every day,” he said.