Following weeks of reports of the "dangerous" and "horrifying" conditions inside border detention facilities, President Donald Trump on Wednesday tweeted that many of the immigrants held in overcrowded facilities "are living far better now than where they came from, and in far safer conditions."
"Our Border Patrol people are not hospital workers, doctors or nurses," Trump said in a series of tweets blaming Democrats for the conditions. "Many of these illegals aliens are living far better now than where they came from, and in far safer conditions."
The president added that if immigrants don’t like the conditions inside the border facilities, they should not come to the US.
"Now, if you really want to fix the Crisis at the Southern Border, both humanitarian and otherwise, tell migrants not to come into our country unless they are willing to do so legally, and hopefully through a system based on Merit," he tweeted. "This way we have no problems at all!"
Trump's comments came after a congressional delegation visited Border Patrol facilities this week and emerged with stories of separated families, a lack of access to water, and agents telling immigrants to drink from toilets.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, who toured the facilities in El Paso and Clint, Texas, said there was no running water on a sink above a toilet bowl for detained immigrants and that women were told by agents they should drink out of the toilet.
"This has been horrifying so far," Ocasio-Cortez said in a tweet. "We’re talking systemic cruelty [with] a dehumanizing culture that treats them like animals."
The Department of Homeland Security's Office of Inspector General on Tuesday also said in a report that several border facilities in the Rio Grande Valley were overcrowded and described the conditions inside as "dangerous," with some adults held in standing room–only conditions for a week. There was little access to hot showers or hot food for families and children in some facilities, the report said.
"Senior managers at several facilities raised security concerns for their agents and the detainees,” the inspectors wrote. “For example, one called the situation a ‘ticking time bomb,’ and another said there was ‘fear of a revolt.’”
The conditions inside the facilities have deteriorated after a surge of immigrants were apprehended at the US–Mexico border. Reports of immigrants being held under bridges or forced to sleep outside on the ground for days have plagued Customs and Border Protection officials. Border officials expect border crossings to have dropped in June.
Trump's comments echo recent right-wing talking points defending the conditions in the detention centers.
During his Tuesday broadcast, conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh took aim at Ocasio-Cortez, saying she was lying about immigrants being told to drink out of toilets.
Even so, Limbaugh suggested that drinking water out of a toilet bowl would be an improved condition for some immigrants.
"But, my friends, based on what we are told about the circumstances where these people are fleeing — maybe toilet water is a step up for some of them, based on what the left is telling us their homelands are like," Limbaugh said.
Brian Kilmeade, a Fox News host, compared the conditions inside CBP facilities to an overcrowded house party with too many guests.
"Picture yourself: You have a house, family of five. You have a party, you have 30 people over. Maybe you have a big party and have 100 people over and you have two and a half baths. In the beginning, it would be okay with 30," said Kilmeade on Fox & Friends. "Then after 100 people, it would be a little bit taxed. Maybe you get an outdoor facility. Can you picture 5,000? You can have the best facilities in the world, but they are so overstocked."
Ocasio-Cortez responded to Kilmeade on Twitter: "What was the last 'party' you went to where you were locked in a cage under armed guard, drank out of a toilet, & given food of such poor nutritional value, for so long, that it gave you mouth sores?"