If you’re one of those people who follows politics because it provides a type of entertaining theater, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s visit to a migrant detention center in Texas earlier this month was pretty much the comedy hit of the summer. The problem was that she was dead serious and that what she said and did will have a long-term impact on the border debate.
In case you’d forgotten, the New York Democrat was part of a congressional delegation that visited the troubled center in Clint, Texas, down by the southern border. Her hysterics were truly something to watch — particularly her claim that migrants were forced to drink from the toilet by Customs and Border Protection agents.
While she made the same claim a number of times, the most succinct summation of it would probably be when she talked with a reporter for KFOX-TV.
Ocasio-Cortez said that women told her they were “put in a room with no running water. And these women were being told by [Customs and Border Protection] officers to drink out of the toilet. They were drinking water out of the toilet.”
— KFOX14 News (@KFOX14) July 1, 2019
The claim was repeated on social media, because this is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and of course it was.
Just left the 1st CBP facility.
I see why CBP officers were being so physically &sexually threatening towards me.
Officers were keeping women in cells w/ no water & had told them to drink out of the toilets.
This was them on their GOOD behavior in front of members of Congress.
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) July 1, 2019
This was in fact the type of toilet we saw in the cell.
Except there was just one, and the sink portion was not functioning – @AyannaPressley smartly tried to open the faucet, and nothing came out.
So the women were told they could drink out of the bowl. https://t.co/rcu9Rt6B2x
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) July 1, 2019
Stories began to emerge of her visit in the days to follow, including claims that Ocasio-Cortez had come “out screaming at our agents, right at the beginning [of the tour] … Crying and screaming and yelling.”
Even though the congresswoman said she was threatened by the agents, the general consensus among the stories that emerged was that she was the threatening presence.
“The agents, they wanted to respond, but they held back because she’s a congressional delegate,” one witness said, according to the Washington Examiner.
“But when you have someone yelling at you in a threatening manner … They were like, ‘Hey, you need to kinda step back.’”
And then there’s that toilet water story. Obviously, there’s been no confirmation of it yet. If there were, it would be the top story on every newscast from now until November of 2020.
However, not only is there a complete lack of confirmation, there’s now a version of the story going around that the whole toilet story was because of Ocasio-Cortez misunderstood the expression the migrants used.
Agent in El Paso yesterday told me he was there to see the migrant talk with AOC. agent said when AOC asked “where do you drink water?” The migrant said “a el baño” which means toilet but that’s what they all call the contraption that combines a toilet with water fountain atop. https://t.co/3PSRj9zhkP
— Eddie Scarry (@eScarry) July 12, 2019
“Agent in El Paso yesterday told me he was there to see the migrant talk with AOC. agent said when AOC asked ‘where do you drink water?’ The migrant said ‘a el baño’ which means toilet but that’s what they all call the contraption that combines a toilet with water fountain atop,” author and Washington Examiner commentator Eddie Scarry tweeted last week.
This is a single-sourced report, mind you, although Scarry hasn’t been known as a conspiracy-peddler or anything like that. When it comes to AOC, the worst charge ever levied against him is that he’s been insufficiently respectful when it comes to the congresswoman’s wardrobe and what it might hypothetically have cost.
Furthermore, another Twitter user noted that if the migrants had used the word “baño,” they probably didn’t mean the toilet.
Baño actually means bath, which we also use for bathroom. Toilet is retrete (amongst others). And the shower is ducha. You are welcome
— Víctor Matía (@VctrMt) July 13, 2019
Assuming this is accurate — and there’s so much about her dumpster conflagration of a visit that remains anecdotal at best, so keep that in mind — there’s also the question about why she would have made such a mistake. After all, Ocasio-Cortez’s Spanish is a bit better than, say, Beto O’Rourke’s:
So what precisely happened at the Clint detention center when Ocasio-Cortez made her photo oppor– err, visit?
Nobody quite knows. Even if none of these stories are true and are just the invention of Border Patrol agents who don’t like her, the visit is still hysterical because of the ridiculous stories she told upon exiting.
Did Ocasio-Cortez misunderstand what they meant when they were talking about the sink/toilet combinations in their bathrooms? Did she purposely misinterpret what they said?
Is all of this a fictive account of her time there?
In any case, I think the lack of corroboration is an almost certain sign that there was no drinking out of the toilets in Clint or in any other detention facility.
Nobody really knows, but President Donald Trump left no doubt about where he stood on the subject.
‘To have Ocasio say that they’re drinking out of toilets? She made that up, OK?” Trump said on Friday.
“That’s a phony story. She made it up.”
That could well be true — but then again, we’ll never know. However, you have to at least give Ocasio-Cortez some credit for adding some comic relief to a very serious issue, even if she never intended to.
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