Reported By Zack Budryk | 06/23/19 09:54 AM EDT
Vice President Pence briefly sparred with CNN’s Jake Tapper on Sunday over reports of unsanitary, dangerous conditions in migrant detention centers.
“No American should approve of this mass influx of people coming across our border,” Pence said on “State of the Union.” “I was at the detention center in Nogales, [Ariz.]. … It is a heartbreaking scene. These are people who are being exploited by human traffickers. … Congress has to act.”
Tapper played a clip of Justice Department lawyer Sarah Fabian suggesting detained migrant children did not need toothbrushes or soap, prompting Pence to respond, “I can’t speak to what that lawyer was saying.” He then insisted congressional Democrats had resisted expanding bed space in detention centers.
Pence, asked about additional reports of conditions inside the facilities, said that “we’ve got to get to the root causes” by improving border security.
Tapper continued to press Pence on conditions in the facilities, telling him he had “the power right now to go back to the White House” and raise the issue. Pence defended U.S. Customs and Border Protection personnel, calling them “dedicated men and women” who are “doing their level best every day.”
Immigration attorneys have said that four toddlers were sent to the hospital last week after they were held at a Border Patrol facility.
Pence’s comments came in the wake of reports that President Trump had canceled sweeping Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids in several major cities Sunday, saying he would give congressional Democrats two weeks to reach an immigration deal.