On Sunday, Vice President Mike Pence admitted to CNN’s Jake Tapper that “of course” immigrant children detained at the border should be given toothbrushes, soap, and medicine.
The simple statement directly contradicts a Trump administration lawyer who last week suggested before a panel of Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals judges that a settlement requiring sanitary conditions for detained kids does not necessarily cover these basics.
Meanwhile, the Associated Press reported last week that a legal team interviewing children at a detention facility outside El Paso, Texas, found hungry, filthy kids, lice and flu infestations, and lack of supervision, with young children taking care of younger children.
On Sunday, Tapper played a clip of the Trump administration lawyer’s argument and asked Pence, “Aren’t toothbrushes and blankets and medicine basic conditions for kids? Aren’t they a part of how the United States of America—the Trump administration—treats children?”
“Well, of course they are,” replied Pence. “I cant speak to what that lawyer was saying.”
Vice President Mike Pence discusses immigration with CNN’s Jake Tapper: “We have a crisis on our southern border” #CNNSOTU pic.twitter.com/s3qtAoIy3u
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) June 23, 2019
Pence pivoted to blame Democrats for not expanding capacity at border detention centers. “No American should approve of this mass influx of people coming across our border. It is overwhelming our system,” he said. “It is a heartbreaking scene.”
Tapper then pressed Pence, saying that the US is the “wealthiest nation” and has money to provide “toothpaste, soap, and blankets” to detained children. Pence responded, “of course we do,” before again criticizing Congress and the appropriations process. Congress is considering a measure that would provide more funding for humanitarian aid at the border.
Pence skirts around Tapper's questions about squalid conditions at child detention centers pic.twitter.com/9I9xJrtsqX
— TPM Livewire (@TPMLiveWire) June 23, 2019
Immigration and Customs Enforcement had prepared for mass deportation raids on Sunday, but President Trump tweeted yesterday that he was delaying the plans in order to allow Congress to “get together and work out a solution to the asylum and loophole problems.” In an extended Meet the Press interview that aired Sunday, he said, “We’re doing a fantastic job under the circumstances.” He added, “The Democrats aren’t even approving giving us money. Where is the money? You know what? The Democrats are holding up the humanitarian aid.”