The chief border patrol agent in the El Paso, Texas, area on Monday disputed allegations made in a New York Times story about conditions at border facilities.
“I can’t understand why some people would be making some of the allegations that they’re making,” Chief Patrol Agent Aaron Hull told CNN’s Alisyn Camerota on “New Day.” “I can tell you that the Clint facility is inspected constantly.”
A facility in Clint, Texas, which is in the El Paso sector, has come under scrutiny following reports of deteriorating conditions. Over the weekend, the Times reported “outbreaks of scabies, shingles and chickenpox” that spread among “the hundreds of children who were being held in cramped cells.”
Hull pushed back against the term “outbreak” Monday, saying that it is “not accurate.”
“We encounter people from all over the world. When we encounter them, and they get their medical screening. We often find that they have scabies, lice, chickenpox, the flu,” he said.
“We immediately treat those people. They are quarantined and separated, so the term outbreak implies that’s something somehow occurring or being caused in our facility,” Hull added.
The Times report came against the backdrop of lawmakers decrying conditions at border facilities and a Department of Homeland Security inspector general report that found extreme overcrowding and children younger than seven years old being held in custody for more than two weeks – far longer than the allowed 72 hours.
Department of Homeland Security officials have repeatedly warned of worsening conditions at the southern border amid the ongoing influx of migrant arrivals. More than 144,000 migrants had been encountered or arrested at the US-Mexico border in May, the highest monthly total in 13 years. Apprehensions are expected to drop in June.
“We’ve been talking about overcrowded conditions for some time. That’s no secret. Everyone from us up through the President has talked about that. That continues to be a problem,” Hull said, later adding that basic hygiene and clothes are available to children.
Last month, Congress passed a $4.6 billion bill to address the migrant crisis at the southern border. Hull attributed a drop in children in custody in the El Paso sector to additional funding, noting Monday that there were 26 children in custody.