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Government Watchdog Report Says Texas Border Facility Was So Overcrowded That Detainees Stood on Toilets to 'Gain Breathing Space'

June 02, 2019 (1 min read)

Abby Vesoulis, Time Magazine, May 31, 2019

"The Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) found an El Paso Border Patrol processing center was so overcrowded that detainees were wearing “soiled clothing for days or weeks” and standing on toilets “to make room and gain breathing space.”

While visiting five Border Patrol facilities and two ports of entry the week of May 6, the watchdog group “observed dangerous overcrowding” at the El Paso Del Norte Processing Center “with single adults held in cells designed for one-fifth as many detainees,” according to a report made public Friday.

Although the report indicates the maximum capacity at the facility is 125 detainees, it cites custody logs indicating roughly 750-900 detainees were being held at the processing center the week of the inspection. “Border Patrol agents told us some of the detainees had been held in standing-room-only conditions for days or weeks,” the report says.

Because some detainees were standing on toilets, the report says, access to the toilets themselves was limited."