After tales of mistreatment at a detention center for migrants stoked his outrage, the Rev. Samuel Rodriguez and a group of Hispanic clergy were prepared to see the worst when they toured a facility in El Paso County, Texas.
After all, Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York had denounced the conditions inside, as CBN had noted, as did attorneys who said they saw deplorable conditions within the facilities where illegal immigrants are housed after being detained.
“What we saw today was unconscionable,” Ocasio-Cortez said.
“No child should ever be taken from their family. No woman should ever be locked up in a pen when they have done no harm to another human being.”
Further, ABC reported that Dr. Dolly Lucio Sevier wrote in a medical declaration, “The conditions within which they are held could be compared to torture facilities.”
But Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference and senior pastor of New Season Christian Worship Center in Sacramento, California, told a media briefing Monday that what he saw on his tour was different, Fox News reported.
“I read the reports, saw the news clips. I just wanted to see what was actually happening in order to better enable our efforts to find a fair and a just solution to our broken immigration system,” Rodriguez said.
“To my surprise, I saw something drastically different from the stories I’ve been hearing in our national discourse. Even as a veteran of immigration advocacy in the U.S., I was shocked at the misinformation of the crisis at the border,” he said.
Despite various claims of filth and harsh conditions, Rodriguez said he found nothing to support them.
“We found no soiled diapers, no deplorable conditions and no lack of basic necessities,” Rodriguez said.
He said he even asked officials running the center if the tour was staged to hide the truth.
“They unequivocally denied it — we were witnessing the identical conditions the attorneys saw when they toured the facility days earlier,” he said, adding that he was told some of those who condemned the facility “never toured the areas of the facility that we toured.”
Rodriguez said during the tour, one Border Patrol agent talked to him about the negative media coverage.
“Pastor Sam, what they’re saying about us is completely false. We care about these kids and have a passion for our calling,” he quoted the agent as saying.
Rodriguez and Pastor Carlos Moran, a board member of the NHCLC, urged that politics be removed from the difficult issue of caring for children who have crossed the southern border illegally.
“We, as evangelical leaders that serve in different segments, are very committed to helping children regardless of their status and we commend those officers that are trying their very best to serve and fulfill their duty at the border,” Moran said.
“However, we do call on our political leaders to set aside their personal agendas and begin focusing on resolving this immigration crisis.”
Rodriguez asked all sides to work for the children.
“What’s heart-wrenching is that we have both Republicans and Democrats alike in Congress, who can’t come together for the purpose of doing the right thing and finding a solution to our immigration crisis,” he said.
“Please, President Trump, please White House, work with the Republicans and the Democrats [and] please, please, please, Nancy Pelosi, Kevin McCarthy, Mitch McConnell, Chuck Schumer, please come together to solve this crisis immediately,” Rodriguez said.
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