Trump vows to 'start showing' migrant detention centres to 'complaining' media

Mandel Ngan, AFP | US President Donald Trump heads to his golf resort in Bedminster, New Jersey, July 5, 2019.

US President Donald Trump on Sunday said migrant detention centres that have come under criticism for overcrowding and poor conditions will be opened to visits by journalists.


"I'm going to start showing some of these detention centres to the press. I want the press to go in and see them," Trump told reporters in Morristown, New Jersey.

"We're going to have some of the press go in because they're crowded, and we're the ones who were complaining about their crowding," he added.

His comments came after The New York Times and The El Paso Times on Saturday published an article describing a Border Patrol station in Clint, Texas as filled with hundreds of children wearing filthy clothing and packed into disease-ridden cells – a story Trump called a "hoax".

"The stench of the children's dirty clothing was so strong it spread to the agents' own clothing – people in town would scrunch their noses when they left work. The children cried constantly," the article said.

"One girl seemed likely enough to try to kill herself that the agents made her sleep on a cot in front of them, so they could watch her as they were processing new arrivals."

Homeland Security report warns of 'dangerous overcrowding'

The article echoed a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) watchdog report released last week warning of "dangerous overcrowding" in multiple detention facilities, which hold thousands of migrants seeking to remain in the United States, most of whom are fleeing violence and poverty in their Central American homes.

Democratic lawmakers who also visited detention facilities reported massive crowding in cells with no running water, where children and adults lacked access to needed medicines and were deprived of showers for up to two weeks.

Trump had previously expressed little sympathy for migrants in the facilities, saying on Twitter "If Illegal Immigrants are unhappy with the conditions in the quickly built or refitted detentions centers, just tell them not to come. All problems solved!"

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador agreed last month to crack down on undocumented migration, deploying tens of thousands of National Guardsmen to tighten its borders after Trump threatened to impose tariffs.

Mexico's national immigration authority said last week deportations had jumped by 33 percent in June, while the DHS said it expects a 25 percent drop in migrants taken into custody along the US-Mexico border in the same month.

Trump says immigration raids to start ‘fairly soon’

Trump’s announcement came days after the US president said immigration raids would begin “fairly soon”.

"They'll be starting fairly soon, but I don't call them raids, we're removing people, all of these people who have come in over the years illegally," he told reporters at the White House on Friday.

Trump, who has made a hardline immigration stance a key issue of his presidency and 2020 re-election bid, postponed the operation last month after the date was leaked.

US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) last month said operations would target recently arrived undocumented migrants in a bid to discourage a surge of Central American families at the southwest border.

ICE said in a statement its focus was arresting people with criminal histories but any immigrant found in violation of US laws was subject to arrest.

Government documents published this week by migrant rights groups showed some past ICE operations resulted in more so-called "collateral" arrests of undocumented migrants agents happened to find than apprehensions of targeted people.

Migrant rights groups say this generalised threat is harmful to communities and the US economy, as it forces adults to miss work and children to skip school out of fear they may be picked up and separated.


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