As Red State‘s Sarah Lee wrote this morning, a group of pastors recently toured detention centers in El Paso County, TX not long after hearing reports from attorneys and human rights advocates of alleged abuses, harassment, and mistreatment of migrants at the border.
A quick recap, via Fox News:
[Rev. Samuel Rodriguez], the president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, the world’s largest Hispanic Christian organization, and senior pastor of New Seasons Christian Worship Center in Sacramento shared his firsthand experience touring a migrant detention center during a press briefing Monday.
“I read the reports, saw the news clips. I just wanted to see what was actually happening in order to better enable our efforts to find a fair and a just solution to our broken immigration system,” Rodriguez, who has advised President Trump and both Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush on immigration reform, noted. “To my surprise, I saw something drastically different from the stories I’ve been hearing in our national discourse. Even as a veteran of immigration advocacy in the U.S., I was shocked at the misinformation of the crisis at the border.”
“We found no soiled diapers, no deplorable conditions and no lack of basic necessities,” Rodriguez remarked, adding he specifically asked border agents if they staged the facility in response to the negative press. “They unequivocally denied it — we were witnessing the identical conditions the attorneys saw when they toured the facility days earlier.”
Ocasio-Cortez fired back after hearing that the pastors, among others like Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX), were pushing back on claims of “deplorable” conditions at border detention centers:
The right is responding to what’s been exposed at the border by denying it & saying I’m lying.
Hard to assert when the details I shared are corroborated by other members of Congress, court documents, migrant testimony, and now photos released today by the Inspector General. https://t.co/1JR8oSkk9X
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) July 2, 2019
The “other members of Congress” have said that some of the migrants told them they were told if they wanted water they’d have to drink it out of the toilets. None of the members of Congress actually witnessed this taking place.
In response to AOC’s tweet saying she and her crew are right and everyone else is wrong, several of the pastors who toured the facilities are clapping back:
“I must be living in a parallel universe somewhere…I did not find soiled diapers. I did not find crying children. I did not find deplorable conditions,” Rodriguez told Fox News host Shannon Bream. “Quite the opposite. I found amazing people on both sides trying to make a very difficult circumstance better. I don’t know where everyone else is visiting! I spoke to border patrol agents, the vast majority of which are Latino and many attended churches that are part of our network, and I asked, ‘Hey guys, did you stage this? Did you flip the script to accommodate people like me?’ And they went ‘Pastor Sam, absolutely not. You are looking at the very thing that existed here for a number of weeks, so it’s not that we shifted because of any deplorable conditions that were discovered.’”
Rodriguez said he found out that the attorneys who reported the original “deplorable” conditions “never, ever walked through the center.”
“They never visited what I visited. They took that information anecdotally to interviews with children, with children mind you, from the age of 2 to the age of 17. The truth sets you free.”
Kevin Wallace, pastor of Redemption to the Nations Church, who joined Rodriguez, slammed Ocasio-Cortez’s allegations as “totally absurd.” Instead, he witnessed “kind, considerate and passionate” Border Patrol agents.
Ocasio-Cortez described being fearful of the border agents. But Tony Stewart, the pastor of Citylife Church who also toured the center with the delegation of seven pastors, said border agents were in tears about the mischaracterization about them.
—Based in North Carolina, Sister Toldjah is a former liberal and a 15+ year veteran of blogging with an emphasis on media bias, social issues, and the culture wars. Read her Red State archives here. Connect with her on Twitter.–