As United States Government entered day 21 of the shutdown, the impact continues to ripple through the government and the country.
The effects of the current shutdown are felt far and wide; 800,000 federal workings not receive paychecks Friday is the most glaring example of what is happening.
There is, however, one aspect of this shutdown that is not being seen by the general public or spoken about: migrants and asylum seekers who are in custody of Border Patrol.
On Friday, sources provided me with information about what is happening with individuals who are in custody during this shutdown. What I was told turned my stomach.
“A 30-40-person cell is now holding up to 150 plus individuals,” said confidential sources who work with Border Patrol. “We have some larger ones, and they got people sleeping on top of each other, and all we do is pack more in. We can’t hardly move a body with the stupid shutdown.”
But that’s not the only issue. Allegedly there are serious health issues as well.
“And there are people that are sick and should see doctors outside of here,” said a Border Patrol agent. “But, yeah, we got chicken pox, two that might have mesilles [sic]. Some have MRSA.”
There have been similar posts on several social media pages, all unconfirmed, but all similar in description and urgency.
To verify this information, beyond the agents I’ve spoken with and screenshots that were sent to me, I contacted Agent Joe Romero, one of the media affairs officers for Border Patrol. That’s when another unfortunate side effect of the government shutdown reared it’s head.
When I spoke to Agent Romero, I told him that I had individuals telling me about the overcrowding and health situations.
“Here’s the problem,” said Agent Romero, “right now, while we are on the furlough, we can’t address media or questions. That’s part of the issue with the furlough, is that our media department is basically kind of shut down.”
Agent Romero did ask that I send him an e-mail, so he could see if someone up the chain of command would be able to respond to our questions and information. That email was sent Friday evening; as of publication, we were still awaiting a response.
As this is a developing story, the details will be updated as information arrives.