Pence Says “Of Course” Detained Kids Deserve Toothbrushes and Soap

This directly contradicts the argument made by a Trump administration lawyer last week.

State of the Union/CNN

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.

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.” 

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.

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.”

DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate