Normally the most hackish way to begin an article is to say “the dictionary definition of X is…” but America refuses to agree on a common set of facts, so in order to discuss our crimes against humanity seriously, we really do need to establish the playing field first. Encyclopedia Britannica defines concentration camps as:
Internment centre for political prisoners and members of national or minority groups who are confined for reasons of state security, exploitation, or punishment, usually by executive decree or military order. Persons are placed in such camps often on the basis of identification with a particular ethnic or political group rather than as individuals and without benefit either of indictment or fair trial.
They define ethnic cleansing as a war crime:
The attempt to create ethnically homogeneous geographic areas through the deportation or forcible displacement of persons belonging to particular ethnic groups.
Keep those definitions in mind as you read this alarming report from McClatchy:
The Trump administration is looking to build tent cities at military posts around Texas to shelter the increasing number of unaccompanied migrant children being held in detention.
The Department of Health and Human Services will visit Fort Bliss, a sprawling Army base near El Paso in the coming weeks to look at a parcel of land where the administration is considering building a tent city to hold between 1,000 and 5,000 children, according to U.S. officials and other sources familiar with the plans.
The reason why there is such a dramatic increase in the number of children concentrated in these camps is due to Jeff Sessions’ expensive policy of separating families at the border, McClatchy continued:
Leon Fresco, a deputy assistant attorney general under President Barack Obama, who defended that administration’s use of family detention, said the Trump administration is also likely going to need to return to Congress soon for more money if it wants to keep up this aggressive detention approach. He said it’s much more expensive to separate the parent and children and hold them in two different facilities than keeping them together using a monitoring system.
“The point is separating families is not only controversial, it’s also inordinately more expensive,” Fresco said.
The United States of America separating families and spending more money than it would cost not to do that in order to build concentration camps for children. Despite all the legitimate criticism directed at the president who deported more people than anyone ever, Barack Obama, separating families and detaining them at this scale is a new frontier in our immigration policy. This is who Jeff Sessions is.
He endures near-daily humiliation at the hands of our manchild-in-chief over his recusal from the Russia investigation because he derives that much joy from horrific episodes like this KUOW report from a SeaTac prison in Washington:
”In most cases, they were taken into a different room like, ‘Here we’re going take your photograph,’” said U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal. “Then after the photo was taken, they were taken to a different room from their child. So they never got to say goodbye.”
They could hear their children screaming in the other room, Jayapal said.
“Screaming for their moms, asking for their moms. And they had to sit there and listen to that and still not be able to see them or hold them.”
This is the logical conclusion of white nationalism. Concentration camps and ethnic cleansing. It’s happening right now. As you read this. Thousands of children are sitting in American detention centers, screaming for their parents. This is the agenda endorsed by the Republican Party.
If you sympathize with Jeff Sessions because you believe these children broke the law, not only are you a garbage person, but you also don’t understand the law at all. It is not illegal to walk up to the border and ask for asylum (let alone be separated from your family after you do), and being in the United States illegally isn’t even a misdemeanor—it’s a civil violation. Do you think you should lose your kid because you got a parking ticket? That’s also a civil violation.
This is infuriating, disheartening, and every other adjective you can find associated with those two. America is building concentration camps. For children. If you’re not outraged, you’re part of the problem. I would say something like “if this doesn’t spur us to take real action, then we’re lost,” but six years ago, we witnessed 20 children between the ages of six and seven gunned down at school and our government loosened gun laws afterwards. We’re already a lost people. This is America.
Jacob Weindling is a staff writer for Paste politics. Follow him on Twitter at @Jakeweindling.