Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer accused the Trump administration of treating detained migrants “like criminals” after touring a Texas detention facility on Friday, calling conditions he saw there “awful.”
The New York Democrat, who led a dozen Senate Democrats to the border, blamed the administration for “inhumane” conditions at the detention centers. He said even though authorities tried to “make things look better” the day before their visit, the conditions were still appalling.
“They’re treating them all like criminals,” Schumer said from the border after the tour. “And if you listened to the president you’d think they were all criminals. They’re not. They’re people simply seeking some … honor, decency for their children.”
Schumer posted videos on social media during his Friday visit, including one of a child who said he couldn’t brush his teeth at the facility.
Schumer said that it would be more “fair and a lot easier” to allow people to apply for asylum in Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador. He acknowledged the need for more immigration judges and ways to deal with gang violence, but said addressing asylum issues is “much better of a solution than what we saw here.”
Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), who joined the border visit and is working on bipartisan asylum legislation with Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), said the committee would start debating President Donald Trump’s proposals for immigration reform.
“You can’t walk into this building and see the situation these children are in and believe that it’d be better for them and better for America for them to stay in detention,” Durbin said.
The Democrats’ visit to the border comes after Vice President Mike Pence toured detention facilities last week, revealing excessively crowded conditions for migrant men. Despite Democratic outrage over border conditions, the Senate is not likely to take up asylum reform.
Other senators on the tour included Democratic Sens. Jeff Merkley of Oregon, Robert Menendez of New Jersey, Ron Wyden of Oregon, Jack Reed of Rhode Island, Ben Cardin of Maryland, Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, Chris Coons of Delaware, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Brian Schatz of Hawaii, Jacky Rosen of Nevada, and independent Maine Sen. Angus King