U.S. Congresswoman Jackie Speier has visited migrant detention facilities in the past, but what makes her second trip different is that cell phones were allowed on the tour.
Her colleague, Congresswoman Anna Eshoo was also part of the 18-member delegation to get a first-hand look at the facilities in Brownsville, Texas.
“We were insistent on being able to take our phones into the detention centers,” said Eshoo.
In one video posted to Speier’s Twitter page, the cries of children can be heard in the background.
“Many of them are sick because the conditions are such that influenza, meningitis and other chronic kinds of conditions have cropped up,” Speier told KTVU on Sunday after turning home to the Bay Area.
Another photo shows a father and child lying on a mat in a quarantine area while they are said to be waiting to find out whether they’ll be able to transfer to a hospital for treatment.
Eshoo echoed the dire conditions described by her congressional colleague by painting a similarly grim picture of a detention center where those held are in despair, eager for help and a connection to the outside world.
“The conditions are stunning, they’re horrible. I couldn’t sleep last night,” Eshoo told KTVU on Sunday after turning to the Bay Area. “It was absolutely inhumane and the stench from so many people jammed into a very small space, no showers, it was grim.”
Vice President Mike Pence took a similar trip last week to a facility in McAllen, Texas. During the tour the press pool was escorted away when detainees shouted that they'd be held for 40 days or more, and were hungry and wanted to brush their teeth.
The vice president called the conditions of the detention center “tough stuff” while praising the work of border patrol agents who are charged with looking after their care.
Speier said that she and the 20 lawmakers who took part in the trip will now draft a package of bills that will focus on getting proper healthcare professionals into the detention centers to help alleviate the stress being placed on border patrol agents.