Border Patrol Chief Carla Provost said she found remarks comparing facilities along the southern border to concentration camps “offensive,” during a House Homeland Security subcommittee hearing Thursday.
“I’m extremely offended by those comments,” Provost said in response to questioning from Republican Rep. Michael Guest who referenced Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s remarks this week saying the US “is running concentration camps on our southern border.”
“Recently, a member of Congress has referred to those detention centers as concentration camps. Remarks which myself and other members of Congress find highly offensive … Would you care to comment on those remarks?” Guest said.
“I personally find them offensive. My men and women, as well as the men and women in (Immigration and Customs Enforcement), are doing the best that they can with the limited resources that they have,” Provost said.
“I’m calling agents who are bringing toys in for children and buying them with their personal money; agents are bringing in clothes; they’re feeding babies; they’re going above and beyond day in and day out to try to care for these individuals to best of their ability. And this is not what they were trained or what they signed up for to do,” she added.
Many Border Patrol agents have been pulled away from their primary duties along the southern border to help with the influx of migrants at facilities. The sheer volume of migrants and their make up – largely families and unaccompanied children – has overwhelmed the agency.
In May, nearly 133,000 migrants were arrested for crossing the border illegally, according to Customs and Border Protection data, including more than 11,000 unaccompanied children. The dramatic spike in apprehensions has led to overcrowding in some facilities.
Ocasio-Cortez slammed the administration in an Instagram Live clip, accusing it of running “concentration camps” in its detention of migrants at the southern border.
“The United States is running concentration camps on our southern border, and that is exactly what they are – they are concentration camps,” Ocasio-Cortez told an Instagram Live audience Monday evening. “And if that doesn’t bother you … I want to talk to the people that are concerned enough with humanity to say that we should not, that ‘never again’ means something,” a reference to a phrase commonly invoked by Jews about the Holocaust.
Conservatives quickly slammed the New York Democrat for her use of the term, which is most commonly associated with Nazi death camps during the Holocaust.
Acting DHS Secretary Kevin McAleenan has urged Congress to provide additional funding to address the worsening situation at the border. The Senate Appropriations Committee approved a $4.6 billion border supplemental bill Wednesday. It now heads to the Senate floor.