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  • Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) looks on during a march organized by the Women's March Alliance in the Manhattan borough of New York City, U.S., January 19, 2019.

    Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) looks on during a march organized by the Women's March Alliance in the Manhattan borough of New York City, U.S., January 19, 2019. | Photo: Reuters

Published 2 July 2019

“After I forced myself into a cell with women and began speaking to them, one of them described their treatment at the hands of officers as 'psychological warfare''".

U.S. congresswoman (D) Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez made a recent visit to the Texas-Mexico border where she toured the area and the facilities used to house the migrants seeking asylum in the United States.

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According to Ocasio-Cortez after a visit with members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus to the main border patrol facility in El Paso, the migrants held at a border patrol station in Texas were subjected to psychological abuse and told to drink out of toilets.

The tour, which also included a visit to a Clint, Texas, facility, followed reports from a government watchdog that immigrants were being housed in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions.

“After I forced myself into a cell with women and began speaking to them, one of them described their treatment at the hands of officers as 'psychological warfare'", Ocasio-Cortez, a first-term New York Democrat, wrote on Twitter after leaving the El Paso border patrol station.

“This has been horrifying so far.”

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), which oversees Border Patrol, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on her statements about the visit.

The Border Patrol also came under fire on Monday following a report by the non-profit news site ProPublica that offensive content had been posted on a private Facebook group for current and former CBP officers.

Posts included jokes about the deaths of migrants and sexually explicit comments referencing Ocasio-Cortez, the news outlet said.

 “This isn’t about ‘a few bad eggs,’” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted in response to the ProPublica report. “This is a violent culture.”

CBP condemned the Facebook group and acknowledged that it may include a number of the agency’s employees.

Matthew Klein, Assistant Commissioner of CBP’s Office of Professional Responsibility, called the social media activity “disturbing” and said it violated the agency’s code of conduct.

Klein said the matter had been referred to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) inspector general, which has jurisdiction over the CBP.

According to a screen shot published by ProPublica, the Facebook group had 9,500 members.

 “These posts are completely inappropriate and contrary to the honor and integrity I see - and expect - from our agents’ day in and day out,” U.S. Border Patrol Chief Carla Provost said in a statement, adding “any employees found to have violated our standards of conduct will be held accountable.”

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