On Tuesday, Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) suggested that Border Patrol agents were torturing illegal immigrants by making detention centers too cold during the summer.
At a Congressional Progressive Caucus hearing on the border crisis, Schakowsky said she recently visited a detention center in Illinois where “all the kids I talked to at the shelter mentioned the cold.”
“Cold has been used as torture in the past. I mean, really,” she said. “It just makes no sense that they would, it seems deliberately, be held in really uncomfortable situations.”
One immigrant advocate who was testifying said that cold detention centers are a way of “subduing” illegal immigrants.
Jonathan Ryan, an asylum lawyer and another panelist, said he has been told detention centers need to be cold to “prevent the spread of disease.” He then promptly slammed the federal government for treating illegal immigrants like “cattle” and taking precautions against the spread of disease. Ryan said these actions have made the public believe that there is a significant risk that illegal immigrants are carrying various communicable diseases.
Schakowsky said the issue of cold detention centers is “something that we absolutely have to deal with.” She had earlier said that some juveniles she met in Illinois said guards told them that “this is where you wanted to come” after they complained about the cold.
“In other words, maybe you made a mistake making this trip,” Schakowsky said the message was.
She also said that some juveniles claimed that the “worst part” of the journey was “when they got to the United States.”
“I apologize to you for the conditions,” she told a group of juveniles who had illegally entered the country unaccompanied.