1. Opinion

Welcome to America. Here's your bologna and your cell. | Editorial

U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-New York, is escorted back to her vehicle after she speaks at the Border Patrol station in Clint, Texas, about what she saw at area border facilities on July 1. Briana Sanchez/El Paso Times via AP
U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-New York, is escorted back to her vehicle after she speaks at the Border Patrol station in Clint, Texas, about what she saw at area border facilities on July 1. Briana Sanchez/El Paso Times via AP
Published Jul. 5, 2019

A blistering report by the Trump administration's own watchdog agency is more than enough for Congress to demand answers this week about the treatment of migrants held at the U.S. border. However Americans feel about immigration policy, it's unimaginable that anyone could think keeping children in dirty clothes, and adults in standing-room only cells, with nothing to eat but cold bologna sandwiches is in keeping with the resources and sense of dignity America should bring to bear in addressing the surge of migrants in the Rio Grande Valley. Congress needs an action plan from this administration and a larger strategy for keeping the crisis from worsening.

The findings by the Department of Homeland Security's Office of Inspector General were released as House Democrats made their own trips to the border and reported wretched conditions in U.S. detention facilities and a level of hostility from border agents who have mocked migrants and threatened lawmakers on social media. In June, inspectors from the department visited five facilities in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas. They found "serious overcrowding and prolonged detention in Border Patrol facilities requiring immediate attention," noting that children at three of five facilities visited had no access to showers, few spare clothes and no laundry facilities. Many were given sandwiches and snacks for meals, and only wet wipes to tidy up. Some adults were held in standing room only conditions for a week, and at one facility, some adults were held more than a month in overcrowded cells. The overcrowding was so severe that when agency inspectors visited, migrants banged on cells and pressed notes to the windows begging for help.

These conditions are unacceptable, and there's no sign - given the Border Patrol's tight control over visitors - that matters have improved. Facility managers said the conditions endangered migrants and border agents alike; one called the situation "a ticking time bomb." The inspector general urged the Department of Homeland Security "to take immediate steps" to correct the situation.

The House Oversight Committee announced hearings for this week into conditions at the detention centers. Administration officials need to detail how they will use the just-passed $4.6-billion border aid package to ease the humanitarian crisis. The vast majority of the funding, or nearly $3 billion, would go to care for unaccompanied migrant children who are turned over to the Department of Health and Human Services. Another $1.3 billion will go to the Department of Homeland Security to improve conditions for feeding and sheltering migrants detained at the border.

The big question is whether this additional money will translate into a cultural shift in how the administration treats those crossing the border and a larger strategy for controlling the migration. In virtually every state, the government would be removing children from households where parents inflicted this same level of neglect. The current approach is failing, and a lack of money isn't the only excuse.


  1. Ernie Field pushes the doorbell on his Ring doorbell camera at his home in Wolcott, Conn. [JESSICA HILL  |  AP]
  2. In this Oct. 22, 2018 file photo, people gather around the Ben & Jerry's "Yes on 4" truck as they learn about Amendment 4 and eat free ice cream at Charles Hadley Park in Miami. [WILFREDO LEE  |  Associated Press]
  3. How can Tampa Bay best prepare for the future when it comes to climate change?
  4. If St. Petersburg's proposed linkage fee eventually passes, a new condominium project like ONE St. Petersburg would have to pay a fee to the city for affordable housing totaling $1 per square foot of gross floor area.
  5. Hillsborough County Commissioner Stacy White.
  6.  [Andy Marlette -- Pensacola News Journal]
  7. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis delivers remarks during Clay County Day at the Capitol in Tallahassee. [STEVE CANNON  |  AP]
  8. In this Feb. 19, 2020, file photo, from left, Democratic presidential candidates, former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., former Vice President Joe Biden, former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., participate in a Democratic presidential primary debate Wednesday, in Las Vegas, hosted by NBC News and MSNBC. [JOHN LOCHER  |  AP]
  9. Tim Nickens (center) and Daniel Ruth (right) are congratulated by Chairman and CEO of Times Publishing Company Paul Tash (left) in the Tampa Bay Times newsroom in St. Petersburg after it was announced they had been awarded the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Editorial writing on April, 15, 2013. [John Pendygraft]
  10. Florida First Lady Casey DeSantis [Florida Governor's Office]
  11. Pasco County community news [TMCCARTY80  |  Tara McCarty]