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Tlaib on her trip to the border: “I don’t know how to tell people how unbelievable it is.”

Rashida Tlaib
Rashida Tlaib for Congress Facebook page
Rashida Tlaib

It was a tense and emotional visit for Democratic lawmakers at Border Patrol facilities in Texas where migrant families are being detained. 

Twenty-one members of Congress, including Michigan's Rashida Tlaib visited the facilities Monday.

"It was emotional for me because, as a child of immigrants, as a person who knows parents will do so much for their children and sacrifice so much," Tlaib said. "When you're face-to-face for the first time with a parent that has been separated from their children, it was not only emotional, but it was also devastating, that me, as a member of Congress under the current administration, even though I've been I've been voting against any further funding of this, still felt helpess. How do we address this issue?"

On Tuesday, the Department of Homeland Security's Office of Inspector General issued a strongly worded report warning about the "dangerous overcrowding" in Border Patrol facilities in the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas.

"We are concerned that overcrowding and prolonged detention represent an immediate risk to the health and safety of DHS agents and officers, and to those detained," they wrote in the report.

Earlier this week, it was reported that there was a secret Facebook group for current and former Border Patrol agents. ProPublica reported that, in this group, members "joked about the deaths of migrants, discussed throwing burritos at Latino members of Congress visiting a detention facility in Texas on Monday and posted a vulgar illustration" of U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

"I had just found out about the Facebook group that over 9,500 border patrol officers were part of," Tlaib said. "We only have 20,000 agents across the country, so half of those are part of some sort of Facebook page where they were threatening or basically saying throw things at the members of congress, they were upset that we were coming."

Tlaib said learning of this right before entering the facility made the situation tense, however, she noted that the group didn't come to blame those working there, because although the system is broken, it wasn't the agents who created the problem. Rather, she said, it was the country's leadership that created the problematic policy.

"I told one of the agents, 'I can sense you're angry with me, but I'm not angry with you. Because you know why? I don't expect you to know how to solve this,'" Tlaib said.

Listen above to the full interview to hear Tlaib describe the living conditions, discuss the counter-protestests, and talk about what can be done about the humanitarian crisis.

Stateside is produced daily by a dedicated group of producers and production assistants. Listen daily, on-air, at 3 and 8 p.m., or subscribe to the daily podcast wherever you like to listen.
Jodi is Michigan Public's Director of Digital Audiences, leading and developing the station’s overall digital strategy.
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