WASHINGTON, DC – The Trump administration is playing defense after news reports that paint a horrifying look inside a migrant detention center just outside of El Paso, Texas.
"The New York Times story is a fabrication," Trump told reporters Sunday. "Those are people that are very happy with what's going on because, relatively speaking, they're in much better shape right now."
The New York and El Paso Times article cited unnamed border patrol agents who claim they've been "ringing the alarms" but "no one was listening" as they "grapple with the stuff of nightmares."
"The stench of the children's dirty clothing was so strong it spread to the agents' own clothing — people in town would scrunch their noses when they left work," quotes the article. "The children cried constantly. One girl seemed likely enough to try to kill herself that the agents made her sleep on a cot in front of them, so they could watch her as they were processing new arrivals."
The article also details "outbreaks of scabies, shingles and chickenpox spreading among hundreds of children in cramped cells."
"Everyone should say look, if there are kids, they haven't committed a crime, those kids should have sanitation, they should have a hot meal, they should have diapers, they should make sure they are treated with fairness," Congressman Ro Khanna (D-CA) tells CBN News.
Khanna believes there needs to be clear health and nutrition standards at detention centers, and he says many faith leaders agree.
"The issue is not just money, the issue is having basic rules to make sure that those supplies are actually getting to those kids, to make sure we don't have 100 people in those cells that can only accommodate 20 or 30," continued Khanna.
Just last week the inspector general released photos showing dangerous overcrowding in other detention facilities, urging the Department of Homeland Security to address the situation.
"This is an extraordinarily challenging situation. We had an overflow situation with hundreds of children crossing every day," Acting DHS Secretary Kevin McAleenan told ABC's This Week.
McAleenan argues the claims in the New York Times article are unsubstantiated.
"I'm not denying that there are challenging situations at the border. I've been the one talking about it the most," maintains McAleenan. "What I can tell you right now is that there's adequate food, water, and that the reason those children were at Clint station in the first place is so they could have medical consolidated. They had shower facilities – for over a year there's been showers there."
The Clint facility built in 2013 was never intended to hold more than 100 adult men. It reportedly peaked to holding 700 children in April, and 250 just two weeks ago. McAleenan acknowledges with over 500,000 people crossing the border since December they have had a lot of issues, but are hoping they'll improve now that Congress approved a much needed spending plan.