The Slatest

Trump Appears to Contradict Pence, Defends Conditions of Migrant Detention Centers

Families crowded inside the detention facility, with aluminum foil blankets strewn about.
Inside the U.S. Border Patrol station in McAllen, Texas, on June 11.
Office of Inspector General/Department of Homeland Security via Getty Images

President Donald Trump seems to have come to a different conclusion than his own vice president about crowded detention facilities at the border. After Vice President Mike Pence toured detention facilities in Texas, he acknowledged the conditions were hardly optimal. “No, it’s not,” Pence told CNN when he was asked whether the conditions at an overcrowded, foul-smelling detention center were acceptable. He also called conditions “tough stuff” but insisted he “was not surprised” by what he saw. “I knew we’d see a system that was overwhelmed,” he said.

Trump, however, did not include any nuance in his staunch defense of the detention centers on Sunday, pushing the message that if migrants want to avoid the overcrowded conditions, they shouldn’t go to the United States in the first place. “Sorry, can’t let them into our Country,” Trump tweeted. “If too crowded, tell them not to come to USA, and tell the Dems to fix the Loopholes - Problem Solved!”

The president said that Pence’s tour of the facilities showed “how well run and clean the children’s detention centers are,” adding that they had “Great reviews!” Trump then proceeded to blast the New York Times for its coverage, noting that the “adult single men areas were clean but crowded” and appeared to justify the conditions by saying they are “loaded up with a big percentage of criminals.”

Quoting Trump’s tweet, Josh Dawsey of the Washington Post, who was on the tour of the facilities with Pence, contradicted the president’s assessment of the situation. “The men, crammed inside fences, were sleeping on concrete and said they hadn’t showered in many days,” Dawsey wrote on Twitter. “It was sweltering hot and the stench was horrific.”