EL PASO, Texas - A New Mexico State University professor visited a makeshift Border Patrol facility under the Paso Del Norte Bridge and stumbled upon what he described as "barbaric conditions."
Earlier this year, Border Patrol agents erected a tent under the bridge to keep undocumented immigrants seeking asylum out of the elements while they are transported to its main processing facility.
Professor Neal Rosendorf walked into the makeshift facility when a gate was left open on Saturday, June 1, 2019. "Nothing prepared me for the suffering of those men I stumbled upon," said Rosendorf.
The professor said he was asked to leave to facility, but not before witnessing about 150 people exposed to the elements. The temperature that day reached 99 degrees.
"What made it worse is that these people are completely exposed to the elements. Full stop. All that they had to shield themselves from the elements is whatever they were able to scrounge: scraps of silver mylar, scraps of tarp," said Rosendorf.
The professor took photos of the migrants and shared his story with Texas Monthly and El Paso Congresswoman Veronica Escobar. "It is very alarming. Not just the humanitarian side for the migrants, I'm very worried about the agents," said Escobar.
The congresswoman and Rosendorf said it is possible that as many as 200 immigrants were being detained at the time. Rosendorf called it "worse than turn of the century concentration camps."
The release of Rosendorf's photos comes on the heels of an office of inspector general report which highlighted "dangerous overcrowding" conditions at the Border Patrol's Paso Del Norte bridge facility.
Customs and Border Protection emailed ABC-7 the following statement:
"The safety of those in USBP custody is a priority and so only areas that allow for secure holding and safety, for detainees are utilized. Some of those locations are partially outdoors while still providing relief from sun, wind and inclement weather."