Vice President Mike Pence visited two detention facilities on the southern border on Friday, where he saw almost 400 men in cages and stared blankly at them as if unmoved by their plight.

The tour of the detention centers  gave the public a rare look at the conditions migrants are facing.

“Almost 400 men were in caged fences with no cots. The stench was horrendous, the cages were so crowded that it would have been impossible for all the men to lie on the concrete. There were no mats or pillows,” wrote Josh Dawsey, the pool reporter on scene with Pence, who files news to give to journalists back in Washington.

“I was not surprised by what I saw,” said Pence in a press conference shortly after his visit, “I knew we would see a system that was overwhelmed.”


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Dawsey said men at the McAllan Detention Center in Texas “were hungry and wanted to brush their teeth. It was sweltering hot.” According to Dawsey, detainees were yelling to reporters that they have been there for 40 days or more.

“I wouldn’t take the word of people who are being detained here at McAllan for how they are being treated” responded Pence to a question by Dawsey on the conditions at the centers.

The second facility Pence visited, Donna, for families with children, had 800 migrants detained in a relatively spacious facility. The tented center is supposed to hold people for processing of up to 72 hours, with most families out in 48 hours according to officials. “Space for cots, TV with cartoons, supply rooms stocked with snacks” were all visible at the Donna center according to Betsy Klein, another reporter on scene.


President Donald Trump said Friday that it was his idea for Pence tour the detention centers because he read “a phony story” in the New York Times about the centers’ conditions. The article the president was reportedly referring to quoted an alarming report by the Department of Homeland Security’s independent watchdog, urging the department to improve the conditions at the border.

Trump confirmed that immigration and customs enforcement officers were going to carry out nationwide raids this weekend. “It starts on Sunday they will take people out and bring them back to their countries,” Trump said. “We are focused on criminals as much as we can.”

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