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What it’s like inside U.S. facilities where migrants are being held

The national firestorm over conditions for migrants in U.S. custody continues. Demonstrators gathered across the country Tuesday to protest after news of another migrant death broke. Meanwhile, a report from the Department of Homeland Security's inspector general referenced “dangerous overcrowding and prolonged detention” in U.S. immigration facilities. Lisa Desjardins reports.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    We are getting new details from inside migrant detention facilities at the U.S. southern border, including reports of — quote — "dangerous overcrowding and prolonged detention." And that's from the Department of Homeland Security's own inspector general.

    As Lisa Desjardins reports, more members of Congress are stepping into these facilities and sharing their accounts of the conditions.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Across the country today, dozens of protests, like in Austin, Indianapolis, and outside Senator Lindsey Graham's office in South Carolina, all demanding better treatment for migrants in U.S. custody and closure of what the left-leaning groups behind the event call camps.

    A different outcry came from within the Department of Homeland Security itself. Its inspector general released another alert, the second since May, about dangerous overcrowding. Photos taken in June show adults and children packed into fenced cages, like the toddler held on the left here, or in cement rooms, forced to lay nearly on top of one another.

    The inspector general wrote, some adults were in standing-room-only space for over a week and could not change clothes for at least a month. At least one manager called the situation a ticking time bomb.

    And more news. Last night, we learned that a 30-year-old immigrant in this Houston area detention facility was found unresponsive and later died. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, said Yimi Balderramos-Torres of Honduras had been in U.S. custody nearly a month.

    This after a tense last day that included a small, but raucous group of protesters waiting for Democratic members of Congress after they toured detention facilities, including this one in Clint, Texas. The lawmakers described cramped, unsanitary cells, some with sick children and people being left for weeks.

  • Rep. Judy Chu, D-Calif.:

    I will never forget the image of being in a cell and seeing 15 women, tears coming down their faces, as they talked about being separated from their children, about having no running water, and about not being able to know when they were going to get out.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    The group of hecklers was loud, demanding "Build the wall" and yelling racial slurs. Massachusetts Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley:

  • Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass.:

    Keep yelling. This is very appropriate. Vile rhetoric for vile actions, hateful rhetoric for hateful behavior. I am tired of the health and the safety, the humanity and the full freedoms of black and brown children being negotiated.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    This as the Associated Press obtained video of a 12-year-old girl telling her attorney about conditions inside the Clint, Texas, processing center.

  • Girl (through translator):

    There were many children and they were treated badly. They didn't bathe. They gave them little food. Children were crying. Some children didn't sleep almost. It was ugly in there.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    She spent 12 days in that center. Children are supposed to remain in Border Patrol facilities for no more than 72 hours.

    A new report from ProPublica raised other questions, exposing a large Facebook groups for border agents, in which some people joked about migrant deaths and posted demeaning, sexually violent images of Democratic members of Congress.

    In a statement, Border Patrol Chief Carla Provost called it "completely inappropriate, and any officers involved will be held accountable."

    Back in Washington, President Trump expressed his support for the Border Patrol in general.

  • President Donald Trump:

    They're patriots. They're great people. They love our country.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    He also claimed his immigration policies are helping his approval among Hispanic voters.

  • President Donald Trump:

    Number one, they don't want to lose their job. They don't want to take a pay cut. And very importantly, most importantly, they don't want to have crime.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    But a June Marist/"PBS NewsHour"/NPR poll showed just a quarter of Hispanics approve of the job President Trump is doing, with over 60 percent disapproving.

    Late today, another group of Democrats visited the Homestead migrant children's facility in Florida, and pledged to keep coming.

    For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Lisa Desjardins.

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