Vice President Mike Pence toured a Border Patrol facility in Texas on Friday where he reportedly saw hundreds of men standing in crowded cages who later yelled to tell reporters they were hungry.
“The stench was horrendous,” White House pool reporter Josh Dawsey wrote of the brief visit to an outdoor portal at the McAllen Border Station.
Nearly 400 men “were in caged fences with no cots,” Dawsey wrote, adding that it was so crowded the men would not have been able to lie down even on the concrete.
Pence and the reporters accompanying him saw the outdoor portal full of migrants who had allegedly crossed the U.S. border illegally. The reporters saw the migrants for all of 90 seconds before they were escorted away, and the vice president “briefly” went into the room. The men inside the cages reportedly shouted to tell reporters they had been there for longer than 40 days and wanted to brush their teeth.
There were no mats or pillows, according to Dawsey, and water was only accessible outside the cages, which Border Patrol agents said was made available to the detainees when the press was not there.
Agents guarding the cages were wearing face masks.
A White House official said the Secret Service had opposed Pence entering the area once the press left, but the vice president entered the room, Dawsey reported.
The vice president later told reporters he had expected to see similar conditions at the facility.
“I was not surprised by what I saw,” Pence told reporters. “I knew we’d see a system that was overwhelmed.”
“This is tough stuff,” Pence was quoted as saying, adding that he was calling for Democrats to fund more beds for Immigration and Customs Enforcement and more spending from the Department of Homeland Security.
Earlier Friday, Pence and reporters also toured a facility in Donna, Texas, that holds families, adults, and children. There, Dawsey described seeing detainees lying on “kindergarten-like napping mats” on the floor with a “thin tinfoil-like blanket.” Officials said it was one of the “nicest facilities because it was new and relatively clean.”