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A government report found detainees forced to stand 24-7 for over a week in cages too crowded for anyone to sit, children under one year old detained for weeks, separated from parents and siblings. The report provides citations from the government’s own report and from a pediatrician who described the centers as “torture facilities.” Photos & 3 powerful videos included.
Today’s report focuses exclusively upon the horrid conditions under which we are detaining asylum seekers. After the written report, we provide details about vigils being held throughout the state of NM and then we offer three powerful video that include commentary from doctors and elected officials after visiting the detention centers. We can’t afford to turn our heads to this. It represents yet another affront to our sense of decency and likely is part of a plan on the part of Trump and his fellow criminals to test just how much America can take, before initiating the next moral outrage. As you read this, our President has found fit to stage a $5 million military parade at our expense. $5M that could have been spent providing relief to detainees. I am sick to my stomach. Happy 4th of July. Shameless. I am definitely not feeling the old patriotic buzz.
Despite Government Denials, Unfathomably Cruel Conditions Reported in Dept. of Homeland Security’s Own Report
Alexandria Ocasio Cortez had the effrontery to describe the detention centers at the border as being “concentration camps.” That was all the right needed to launch an attack on AOC for her choice of words. Nazi death camp survivors spoke passionately about how AOC’s comments demonstrated that she was an anti-Semite. But the Merriam-Webster dictionary definition of concentration camp is: “a place where large numbers of people (such as prisoners of war, political prisoners, refugees, or the members of an ethnic or religious minority) are detained or confined under armed guard.” As this report describes, the camps along the border fit this definition precisely. Yes, we have come to associate the term concentration camps with Nazi Germany, but we housed Japanese American citizens in concentration camps during World War II and we have concentration camps again today housing thousands of asylum seekers fleeing desperate conditions in Central America.
My point here is that the right, Trump, Fox and a goodly proportion of other mainstream media focused on AOC’s use of a term rather than upon the deplorable and unforgivable conditions she was reporting upon in these detention centers. This is precisely the strategy used by the media and defenders of neo liberal policies, practices and their consequences over and over again. Make stuff up and label the other side as extreme, but divert attention from the real problem whether it is the rapidly increasing wealth gap, the methane plume, toddlers separated from their parents or detention centers that the pediatrician who visited them as “torture facilities.” Nothing like a military parade to distract us from our tax dollars systematically torturing refugee children.
Today’s post relies upon a detailed report published by the Department of Homeland Security based upon inspections of five detention centers conducted during May 2019. Today’s post also relies upon an eyewitness account offered by a Texas pediatrician who has visited the camps multiple times. From the DHS memorandum dated July 2, 2019:
During our visits to five Border Patrol facilities and two ports of entry in the Rio Grande Valley, we reviewed compliance with CBP’s Transport, Escort, Detention and Search (TEDS) standards, which govern CBP’s interaction with detained individuals,3 and observed serious overcrowding and prolonged detention of unaccompanied alien children (UACs),4 families, and single adults that require immediate attention. Specifically, Border Patrol was holding about 8,000 detainees in custody at the time of our visit, with 3,400 held longer than the 72 hours generally permitted under the TEDS standards.5 Of those 3,400 detainees, Border Patrol held 1,500 for more than 10 days. In addition to the overcrowding we observed, Border Patrol’s custody data indicates that 826 (31 percent) of the 2,669 children6 at these facilities had been held longer than the 72 hours generally permitted under the TEDS standards and the Flores Agreement. In addition to holding roughly 30 percent of minor detainees for longer than 72 hours, several Rio Grande Valley facilities struggled to meet other TEDS standards for UACs and families. For example, children at three of the five Border Patrol facilities we visited had no access to showers, despite the TEDS standards requiring that “reasonable efforts” be made to provide showers to children approaching 48 hours in detention.”
The report also found that “at one facility, some single adults were held in standing room only conditions for a week and at another, some single adults were held more than a month in overcrowded cells.” Click here to review the DHS report. There are multiple photos, such as the one at left, depicting conditions. The DHS report was dry and detached in its reportage, but the Atlantic report featuring the visits made by pediatrician Dr. Dolly Lucio Sevier was far from detached. The Atlantic report, What a Pediatrician Saw at a Border Patrol Warehouse, is full of detailed observations of children some of whom had been in detention centers for months.
From the Atlantic: “Inside the Border Patrol warehouse on Ursula Avenue, Dolly Lucio Sevier saw a baby who’d been fed from the same unwashed bottle for days; children showing signs of malnutrition and dehydration; and several kids who, in her medical opinion, were exhibiting clear evidence of psychological trauma. More than 1,000 migrant children sat in the detention facility here, and Sevier, a local pediatrician, had been examining as many as she could, one at a time. But she wasn’t permitted to enter the area where they were being held, many of them in cages, and find the sickest kids to examine. Instead, in a nearby room, she manually reviewed a 50-page printout of that day’s detainees, and highlighted the names of children with a 2019 birth date—the babies—before moving on to the toddlers.”
Her report provides a heartbreaking snapshot of a single doctor trying to prioritize her limited time and see 1000 children, many of whom were deathly ill with a flu virus that had spread rapidly in the crowded conditions From a separate CBS report, Sevier noted: “All the children who were seen showed evidence of trauma, and the teens spoke of having no access to hand washing during their entire time in custody. She [Sevier] compared it to being ‘tantamount to intentionally causing the spread of disease’ “
Kevin McAleenan, the acting head of the Department of Homeland Security, told reporters the outcry was based on “unsubstantiated allegations regarding a single Border Patrol facility.” This comment was made only days before the DHS report derived from visits to five detention centers. But I am sure his quote will be replayed in the media with more prominence than the report disputing his claim. While the DHS report is detailed, to get a real sense of the conditions under which these children are living the Atlantic report is far more human and examines the likely long-term impacts of this mistreatment. Dr. Lucio Sevier makes the observation that the children experiencing this torture will experience trauma for the rest of their lives. Trauma inflicted by our tax dollars. Click here to read the full Atlantic report. If reading this poste hasn’t convinced you to participate in a vigil near you, reading the Atlantic report will. And then there are the videos at the end of this report.
Paul & Roxanne
Vigils Across New Mexico
Vigils are being held in Taos, Albuquerque, Santa Fe and Estancia Valley (90 minutes from Santa Fe, southeast of ABQ) where one private prison detention center is located. Below are locations known at this time. If your community is sponsoring a vigil or other form of demonstration, please let me know by writing to paul@RetakeOurDemocracy.org.
TRANSPORTATION TO ESTANCIA: Indivisible Nob Hill has generously sponsored two buses to take people from Albuquerque to Estancia for the event. They are handling all logistics and communications for the transport. Two buses are reserved and paid for (donations will be accepted on the bus). They can accommodate 112 people. YOU MUST SIGN UP TO RIDE, thanks. Here is the link for people to sign up – please copy and share to your networks:
An impassioned report on AOC’s visit to border detention facilities (4 minutes)
Perhaps the most powerful of the three videos, 3 minutes as Dr, Neal Rosendorg photographs hundreds of men who had been kept in cages in 100 degree temperature with little food or water for weeks. A very powerful 3 minute exposure to the hell we are paying for with our tax dollars.
Leaked Video Taken by Julian Castro plus powerful commentary from the Young Turk outraged that our elected officials, our representatives are not allowed to take pictures or videos of what is transpiring in detention centers. (10 minutes….worth it.)
The outcry is that conditions have to be improved in the detention centers. Yes, but. More important, we need to give the message that immigrants should not be kept at detention centers at all, they should be released into the US (and not to Mexico).
My understanding is that most of the detained children were separated from relatives other than parents (grandparents, cousins, siblings, etc.) that they arrived with, or parents who could not show proof that the children were theirs. This absolutely must stop.
We must not lose sight of the fact that the detention centers are providing huge incomes to certain people at the top, such as shareholders and high-paid administrators of the privately-owned companies (Core Civic and GEO Group are the main ones) that profit from running the detention centers.
This report made me physically clench and wrench. I wrote 3 letters immediately to members of congress insisting that they stop this torture and these concentration camps.
I then read that with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s support, Mitch McConnell passed a bill through the Senate to basically give Trump a blank check for ICE etc. Then a group of conservative Democrats, organized by New Jersey Rep. Josh Gottheimer led an internal revolt demanding that the House pass the bad Senate bill, with no amendments. Then, the House Democratic leadership folded. Over the objection of leading immigrant rights advocates, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, and progressive members of Congress, Speaker Pelosi put the terrible Senate bill up for vote with zero amendments. Nearly a hundred House Democrats refused to support the bill, and it passed with mostly Republican support!
I fear our country has lost its soul. In such times, we ourselves must become the light for others to see by. I pray for the courage and well being of those in the concentration camps. I pray too for the souls of all those whose fear of inevitable change is so great that they would rather create the conditions for a catastrophe to unfold than to acknowledge the sickness we have allowed ourselves to become.
We have fully embraced the Dystopia! Pictures of the detainees, did not even put a damper on our Holiday weekend festivities!