Democrats in the House, several of whom have been to the border to witness firsthand the horrors of Donald Trump‘s concentration camps, are holding an oversight hearing on the issue Friday. While that’s happening, Vice President Mike Pence and a group of Republican senators are headed south for their own tour of a migrant detention center, one that will undoubtedly be clean and shiny and fun for their visit.
We know they’ll be cleaning up the place for him because he already says so. “What people are going to see is not the situation many Democrats have described but actually a situation where our CBP agents are providing humanitarian care, health care, shelter, food, sustenance in a way that would make the American people proud,” Pence said Thursday.
Pence will be trying to put a human face on the horror, a challenge in any circumstances, given the face that he has. The Republicans are trying to play catch-up on messaging on the issue. Democrats have effectively drawn television cameras and national attention to the debacle, exposing horrific conditions and galvanizing opposition. Pence set the tone for what Republicans are trying to do on a visit to California Wednesday. “It is really contemptible that some in Congress have referred to U.S. detention facilities as concentration camps,” Pence said. “That’s an outrage. The Nazis killed people. Our Customs and Border Protection personnel save lives every day.” The deaths of young children and reports of abuse and neglect and unsanitary conditions should be the outrage for the very “Christian” Pence, but he’s not of the “suffer the little children to come unto me” kind of observer.
One Republican senator, Texan Ted Cruz, has visited the McAllen, Texas, facility and came back disturbed. The crisis, he said “was worse than I’ve ever seen it,” and he said he saw cells built for 300 people holding 1,100. He even acknowledged abuse of children, but of course blamed Democrats. “The crisis has gotten materially worse in significant part because congressional Democrats keep galloping to the left on immigration so that as a policy matter, they essentially support open borders,” Cruz said. “Until we close the loopholes, a lot more children will be victimized.”
Expect that to be the tone set by Pence and the Republicans. They’ll have some difficulty with that, however, with the House Oversight Committee simultaneously highlighting what the members of Congress have seen in the centers. Even Trump‘s Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General has exposed the “dangerous overcrowding” in Border Patrol facilities in the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas.