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Cummings: Treatment of young migrants is 'government-sponsored child abuse'

The Hill logo The Hill 7/11/2019 Zack Budryk
Elijah Cummings wearing a suit and tie: Cummings: Treatment of young migrants is 'government-sponsored child abuse' © Greg Nash Cummings: Treatment of young migrants is 'government-sponsored child abuse'

House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) called the treatment of migrant children at facilities on the U.S. border with Mexico "government-sponsored child abuse" in a news conference Thursday, according to The Dallas Morning News.

"They say they have all the supplies they need, and they say that all of the allegations of mistreatment are - and I quote - `unsubstantiated.' We will not be blinded by what we see," Cummings said Wednesday before a hearing on conditions in the facilities.

"We have seen cases where the administration has deported parents without their children and still, to this day, have not reunited those families," he added. "This is government-sponsored child abuse ... on a grand scale."

At the same conference, Congressional Hispanic Caucus Chairman Joaquin Castro (D-Texas) read the names of six children who died either in or shortly after leaving federal custody in the past year.

"It's important to remember them as human beings and not just faceless migrants," he said, according to the newspaper.

Castro described a visit to a facility in Clint, Texas, where he said he saw overcrowded cells and prisoners with no access to medication or the means to wash their hands after using the bathroom. "These are not uncommon things at DHS facilities," he said.

Rep. Chip Roy (Texas), the senior Republican on the subcommittee, accused its Democratic members of denying a humanitarian crisis at the border until recently and disputed the characterization of chain-link fencing at detention centers as "cages."

"I've seen the facilities and I've not seen a single cage. ... I'm seeing ways to try to separate people and keep them safe," he said. "We demean the process and work of law enforcement officers trying to do their job when we call them cages."

The hearing follows a report from the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) Office of Inspector General that documented overcrowding and unsanitary conditions at border facilities.

The House panel is also scheduled to hold hearings on reports that current and former Border Patrol personnel made racist and misogynistic comments in a closed Facebook group. Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan is set to testify before the committee next week.

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