U.S. Rep. Max Rose, a member of the House Homeland Security Committee, traveled to the Rio Grande Valley on Friday to get a first-hand look at the conditions under which undocumented immigrants are being held by the federal government.
Rose, a Democrat representing Southwest Brooklyn and Staten Island, was part of a bipartisan delegation of House members making the trek to the border. Democratic U.S. Rep. Kathleen Rice of Long Island, chairperson of the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Border Security, Facilitation, and Operations, led the delegation.
“Our tour was a powerful experience and seeing the crisis first-hand only reaffirms what we all know and have seen reported, human beings are suffering in our custody,” Rose said in a statement.
The lawmakers visited Customs and Border Patrol facilities around McAllen, Texas. The delegation also scheduled a stop at a shelter run by the Department of Health and Human Services to meet with people working on the ground.
The visit was an eye-opening experience, according to Rose, who said lawmakers on the trip came away determined to improve the situation.
“The administration has presented a false choice as if the greatest country in the world cannot keep our nation safe while caring for those fleeing violence and I refuse to play along. We must redouble our efforts to get appropriate resources for those at the border, put in place strict constraints to ensure that this administration is held to a standard of care that matches our values, and comprehensively address the root problem of this massive surge by assisting the Northern Triangle countries which have been wrecked with violence,” Rose said.
Rose added that he supported the Humanitarian Standards for Individuals in CBP Custody Act, a bill recently passed by the Committee on Homeland Security to ensure proper treatment of migrants at the border.
The legislation would require health screenings for all persons being held in detention centers, ensure that every person in custody has access to drinking water, toilets, hand-washing stations and basic personal hygiene products and that all in custody be given nutritious meals.
“Over the past several months we’ve seen horrific reports of inhumane treatment and conditions that migrants have endured at the border. I am leading this trip seek in the hopes that we can work together on solutions that are humane, effective, and uphold our American values,” Rice stated prior to the trip.
Rose was the object of protesters’ anger during a pro-immigrant demonstration outside his Bay Ridge office on July 2. Protesters decried the conditions in the immigrant detention centers and demanded that Rose visit the U.S.-Mexico border.
Other congressmembers who had already visited detention centers had reported shockingly harsh conditions including seeing migrants locked in cage-like facilities, a lack of proper meals, no shower facilities and severe overcrowding.
“Rose should immediately visit these detention centers and bear witness to the conditions he just funded without any oversight provisions,” said Natalie DeVito, a member of the group Fight Back Bay Ridge, who took part in the protest.
Jonas Edwards-Jenks, a spokesperson for Rose, pushed back against the contention that the funding bill contained no oversight measures. “That’s just simply not true,” he told the Home Reporter in an email.
Edwards-Jenks said the congressmember’s visit to the border was not a response to the protesters.
Rose took part in a press conference with fellow members of the House’s New York delegation on July 2 at which he announced that he would be taking a trip to the border, according to Edwards-Jenks. “That announcement occurred a few hours before the protests began,” he said.