Washington, DC – U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York) threw a fit and screamed at Customs and Border Protection (CBP) personnel during her tour of the Border Patrol facility in El Paso, Texas on Monday.
Afterwards, Ocasio-Cortez’s chief of staff, Saikat Chakrabarti, defended the freshman congresswoman’s behavior and tried to paint the controversial former bartender as brave for having even visited the facilities, The Washington Post reported.
“Imagine all your hateful trolls online, but with guns.Imagine walking into a fenced area full of them. No exit. You don’t get to take any cameras or phones with you. And those trolls with guns? They’re the ones in charge of protecting you. That’s what AOC faced today,” Chakrabarti tweeted.
Ocasio-Cortez was one of 14 House Democrats who visited the El Paso Station on Hondo Pass Drive at about 11 a.m. on July 1, the Washington Examiner reported.
Shortly after the delegation arrived, as they were being briefed inside a holding area, witnesses said Ocasio-Cortez suddenly flipped.
“She comes out screaming at our agents, right at the beginning [of the tour],” a witness told the Washington Examiner. “Crying and screaming and yelling.”
He said the outburst happened in front of about 40 other people and that Ocasio-Cortez behaved in a threatening manner toward Border Patrol agents in the facility.
“The agents, they wanted to respond, but they held back because she’s a congressional delegate,” the witness said. “But when you have someone yelling at you in a threatening manner… They were like, ‘Hey, you need to kinda step back.’”
Rather than staying with the group and listening to the presentation, Ocasio-Cortez kept wandering off to talk with detainees in other cells.
Another witness told the Washington Examiner that the young congresswoman kept returning to the group and interrupting them to share info she had learned from detainees, including that one woman claimed to have drunk from a toilet.
She was also quick to erroneously tweet about how the woman was doing so because the Border Patrol made her do it.
“Now I’ve seen the inside of these facilities. It’s not just the kids. It’s everyone,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted. “People drinking out of toilets, officers laughing in front of members Congress. I brought it up to their superiors. They said 'officers are under stress & act out sometimes.' No accountability.”
“Just left the 1st CBP facility. I see why CBP officers were being so physically &sexually threatening towards me,” she continued. “Officers were keeping women in cells w/ no water & had told them to drink out of the toilets. This was them on their GOOD behavior in front of members of Congress.”
But a border patrol agent who was there told the Washington Examiner that the entire scenario was being mischaracterized.
“So this is what happened with the migrant and drinking water from toilet: she wanted water, didn’t know how to use the faucet in the cell, and drank from the toilet,” the agent explained. “She never told AOC that we made her drink from the toilet. AOC, of course, changed it… This was when she [the migrant] was apprehended and brought into the facility.”
After her meltdown, Ocasio-Cortez refused to tour the facility with the rest of the delegation and instead stayed behind to visit with detainees in the holding area, the Washington Examiner reported.
A spokeswoman from Ocasio-Cortez’s office disputed the witness accounts of the congresswoman’s behavior as an “inaccurate depiction of events” in a statement, The Washington Post reported.
“The Congresswoman spoke sternly to a CBP agent that tried to take a stealth selfie with the Congresswoman in a mocking manner, despite the gravity of the situation,” the statement said.
Ocasio-Cortez told reporters later in the day that she was “not safe from the officers in the facility,” The Washington Post reported.
She also made much of a newly-reported private Facebook group that purportedly contained sexist, derogatory, and generally inappropriate remarks about illegal immigrants in custody.
The group is made up of former and current border patrol agents plus civilians, and is not representative of CBP, officials said.
"These posts are completely inappropriate and contrary to the honor and integrity I see — and expect — from our agents day in and day out," Border Patrol Chief Carla Provost told FOX News. "Any employees found to have violated our standards of conduct will be held accountable."