Rep. Veasey: Congress Must Ensure Border Patrol Treats Migrants With Respect

America is a nation of immigrants. Americans of nearly every race or ethnicity had ancestors from some other distant land or shore before ending up in the place we know today as the United States. The Trump administration's policies to deter, detain and deport immigrants reflect the worst parts of our history, instead of the country of excellence welcoming those seeking a better way of life.I saw this grim reality for myself when I visited Border Patrol stations along the U.S.-Mexico border near El Paso with several of my colleagues. The treatment we witnessed and were told of will cause long-term, irreversible emotional damage for the migrants.We saw children in cells under constant monitoring and detention facilities with very little circulation in the sweltering El Paso heat. We heard from women who said they'd been forced to drink from the toilet and families who didn't know where their loved ones were after being separated from them.What we saw at the facilities, as members of Congress on a scheduled visit planned in advance, is probably far from the worst conditions faced by migrants in Border Patrol custody. This is why it's important for us as Congress to have the ability to conduct oversight and inspect any facility at any time.This is just one piece of the extreme lack of transparency that the Border Patrol exercised during our visit. They confiscated our electronics and barred our staff from following us for portions of the tour to deter us from documenting what we saw.During our visit, the news also broke that thousands of border agents were part of a secret Facebook group where some members posted offensive, racist and sexist comments about the migrants in their custody, as well as Latina members of Congress — some of whom were right beside me in touring the facility.Treating others with respect costs nothing. The conditions witnessed by my colleagues, along with many reporters, lawyers and doctors, are the result of a policy choice meant to punish migrants for daring to seek a better life in this country.The Border Patrol Facebook group reveals that some agents have embraced this punitive policy with malicious glee. What the crisis at the border requires is not just new resources, but new oversight, and a return to America's traditional values as a place of welcome and safety. I am pleased Congress will exercise its oversight power to investigate the Border Patrol. Any agent responsible for mocking lawmakers or the deaths of migrants in their custody must be terminated. And, those who may have committed any felonious human rights violations should be prosecuted.Beyond retribution, we in Congress must ensure that cruelty toward children is never part of U.S. immigration policy. After my visit to the border, I am even more determined to ensure that America creates an immigration system worthy of our values and traditions.Rep. Marc Veasey is a Democrat representing Fort Worth and parts of Dallas in the U.S. House. He wrote this column for The Dallas Morning News.   Continue reading...

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