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Why tensions are heating up in the U.S. migrant crisis, once again

Click to play video: 'Ocasio-Cortez visits migrant detention facilities, says detained women told to drink toilet water' Ocasio-Cortez visits migrant detention facilities, says detained women told to drink toilet water
WATCH: Ocasio-Cortez visits migrant detention facilities, says detained women told to drink toilet water – Jul 2, 2019

The ongoing migrant crisis in the United States is once again garnering headlines, with advocates and politicians raising awareness on the conditions faced by those fleeing violence from their countries, namely El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala.

The issue resurfaced in June, with reports of migrants living in cramped spaces and some lacking basic sanitary supplies such as soap, toothpaste and blankets.

READ MORE: U.S. border agents’ Facebook group shared doctored Ocasio-Cortez photos, racist posts

Since then, Democrat politicians and advocates have been pushing for U.S. President Donald Trump to address the problem in a meaningful way.

The number reached a peak in May, when 84,000 adults and children traveling together were apprehended. Nearly 500,000 immigrants have been detained at the border since the start of 2019, resulting in dangerous overcrowding in U.S. holding centers.

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According to CNN, at least 11 migrants have died in U.S. custody since September 2018.

Here’s a look at recent developments in the saga, and what Trump may be planning next.

Poor conditions at detention centres

Lawyers who visited a Clint, Texas facility in June described squalid conditions, inadequate food, overcrowding, lack of medical care and older children trying to care for toddlers.

In one case, the lawyers said a two-year-old boy without a diaper was being watched by older kids. Several had the flu. Many were separated from extended family members like aunts and uncles who had brought them to the border; others were teenage moms with babies.

This week, a delegation of lawmakers from the Congressional Hispanic Caucus visited a facility in El Paso. Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria OcasioCortez, who previously referred to detention centres as concentration camps, described “horrifying” conditions, such as reports of women being told to drink out of toilets.

WATCH: Democrats decry deplorable conditions at migrant detention facilities in Texas

Click to play video: 'Democrats decry deplorable conditions at migrant detention facilities in Texas' Democrats decry deplorable conditions at migrant detention facilities in Texas
Democrats decry deplorable conditions at migrant detention facilities in Texas – Jul 2, 2019

In light of recent criticism over migrant living conditions, Trump signed a $4.6-billion aid package on Monday to help the federal government cope with the surge of immigrants at the U.S.-Mexico border.

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“This is a humane solution to a tremendous problem that starts because of our bad immigration laws,” Trump said of the aid.

Many Democrats had also pushed for stronger protections for how many migrants are treated at holding facilities and to make it easier for lawmakers to make snap visits.

Images from inside Texas migrant facilities. Homeland Security

On Tuesday, the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General released photos from inside Texas Border Patrol facilities.

The report that accompanied the photos, which were taken on June 10-11, detailed “serious overcrowding,” and noted that there is “prolonged detention among adult detainees.”

Nationwide protests over treatment

The conditions have prompted nationwide protests, especially among those calling for migrant children to be reunited with their parents.

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Outside one housing facility in Homestead, Florida, protesters gathered on Tuesday holding signs that read, “Free the children” and “What if this was your kid?”

CNN reported another protest in Indiana outside Republican Sen. Todd Young’s office. Demonstrators asked that detention facilities be closed and families be reunited.

Many advocates have also taken to social media platforms to denounce the treatment of migrants, using the hashtag #closethecamps.

WATCH: Bodies of drowned migrants set to return home, days after photo sparked outrage

Click to play video: 'Bodies of drowned migrants set to return home, days after photo sparked outrage' Bodies of drowned migrants set to return home, days after photo sparked outrage
Bodies of drowned migrants set to return home, days after photo sparked outrage – Jun 29, 2019

Image of drowned father-daughter

Reports of the poor conditions were compounded by an image of a father and daughter from El Salvador that drowned in a river on their way to the U.S.

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The image underscored the horrific journey many migrants undertake to reach the U.S. — and the desperation many feel. This particular river, which runs between Matamoros, Mexico, and Brownsville, Texas, is dangerous to cross, according to The Guardian.

The newspaper reported that dozens of people have drowned in it in the past year. While migrants may release the risk upon reaching the river, The Guardian noted that turning back would mean surrendering to Mexican authorities and being sent back to their native country.

A total of 283 migrant deaths were recorded along the 2,000-mile U.S.-Mexico border last year. The official death toll so far this year has yet to be released.

WATCH: Trump signs $4.6B aid package to bolster migrant care at southern border

Click to play video: 'Trump signs $4.6B aid package to bolster migrant care at southern border' Trump signs $4.6B aid package to bolster migrant care at southern border
Trump signs $4.6B aid package to bolster migrant care at southern border – Jul 1, 2019

Border agents’ Facebook group

Another recent development in the migrant controversy is a ProPublica report from Monday that revealed a secret Facebook group where U.S. border agents posted racist comments and doctored photos of Ocasio-Cortez.

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The revelation about the Facebook posts only added to the vitriolic atmosphere surrounding immigration and the treatment of tens of thousands of migrants who have crossed the border, vastly straining the system that has been struggling to keep up amid Trump’s hardline rhetoric.

Ocasio-Cortez told reporters the contents of the group aren’t shocking to her.

“It’s just indicative of the violent culture that we saw,” she said.

READ MORE: What’s the rationale behind Trump’s migrant detention? Experts weigh in

Threat of raids

On Monday, Trump suggested he would continue with plans for a nationwide immigration sweep to deport people living the United States illegally, including families.

He had delayed the raids about a week ago, but indicated they would occur after July 4.

“After July 4th, a lot of people are going to be brought back out,” Trump threatened. “ICE is going to be apprehending them and bringing them back.”

The move came after Democrat leader Nancy Pelosi urged Trump to call them off. Immigration and Customs Enforcement leaders had also expressed serious concerns that officers’ safety would be in jeopardy because too many details about the raids had been made public.

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Trump dismissed the conditions that most people seeking asylum in the U.S. face in their home countries. He said they are lodging “frivolous asylum claims.”

— With files from The Associated Press

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