Immigration chief blames Congress for horrific migrant shelter conditions


WASHINGTON – Ken Cuccinelli, the acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, placed the blame squarely on Congress for the deplorable conditions described at a border station by reporters traveling Friday with Vice President Mike Pence.

“First of all it’s shameful for Congress,” Cuccinelli told CNN’s Jake Tapper on Sunday. “And we can prove it. Because last month, when they were willing to address this same problem for children we succeeded in addressing it in one month.”

Cuccinelli said lawmakers needed to allocate more money to go toward Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention beds.

“The reason you see overcrowding at border patrol facilities, and your viewers should pay attention to this is not because of the border patrol. Their job is catch-process and then they hand them off to ICE. ICE is overcrowded, ” Cuccinelli explained. “The pipeline is clogged further down the pipe. That’s why you’re seeing these pictures at the border.”

“These facilities were built to catch adult, Mexican, males, process them, return them to Mexico, typically on the same day,” Cuccinelli added.

In a pool report from the vice president’s travels to a McAllen, Texas, border station, Josh Dawsey of the Washington Post commented that the “stench was horrendous.”

“The cages were so crowded that it would have been impossible for all the men to lie on the concrete,” he wrote. “There were no mats or pillows – some of the men were sleeping on concrete.”

On ABC’s “This Week,” Jonathan Karl asked Cuccinelli, “if you don’t have the resources, you can’t detain these people can you?”

“Sure you can,” Cuccinelli replied, adding that the men were getting fed. “And your alternative is to let them go. And that is the wrong alternative.”

Tapper also asked Cuccinelli how ICE has the resources to carry out raids in major cities, which are planned to start Sunday, if the agency doesn’t have enough beds to deal with migrants who have come over the U.S.-Mexico border.

“There is processing involved, but a lot of that is prepared for on the front end,” he said. “ICE plans these things superbly, they are ready to do that, you cannot give up interior enforcement, otherwise you create one more pull factor here.”