It’s difficult to find the right words when writing about America’s child concentration camps. Many of these abuses are not new, but the practice of deliberately separating families is—especially at this scale. We have truly entered a new frontier in America’s descent into fascism. To be honest, the right words are harsher than most news outlets would allow me to publish. Whatever level of “respectability” I am required to meet by the standards of American journalism feels hopelessly pointless in light of devastating reports like this. The facts of the matter demand hyperbole. Per The Texas Tribune:
Taxpayers have paid more than $1.5 billion in the past four years to private companies operating immigrant youth shelters accused of serious lapses in care, including neglect and sexual and physical abuse, an investigation by Reveal and The Texas Tribune has found.
In nearly all cases, the federal government has continued to place migrant children with the companies even after serious allegations were raised and after state inspectors cited shelters with deficiencies, government and other records show.
Reveal’s Aura Bogado detailed the story of one child.
Every minute these children spend in these taxpayer-funded hellholes is a permanent scar on their psyche. President Obama even argued in favor of the moronic idea that detaining women and children could act as some sort of deterrent against refugees fleeing certain death in war-torn countries for a journey they know they may not survive. What we're doing to these kids is torture.
If you still adhere to the belief that reason will prevail and that America “is better than this,” wake the fuck up. This is already happening.
In times of genuine crisis, silence and inaction is functionally complicity. In six weeks, we separated two thousand children from their parents. We could be holding 30,000 children in detention by August. And we're sending them to shelters with a history of rape and neglect. Stop arguing over whether this compares to Nazi Germany. We imprisoned over a hundred thousand Japanese Americans during World War II. We don't need a foreign comparison for this kind of evil. Yesterday was the anniversary of the abolition of slavery, but you likely didn't hear about it because it's not a nationally recognized holiday. This is America.
So what can you do to help these children in desperate need? Pressure Congress. Trump could stop this any time he wants, but he has reportedly told confidants that he sees torturing children as a winning culture war issue—like NFL protests*.
UPDATE: Just before I went to publish this, the AP reported that “Homeland Security secretary drafting order to end family separation at border,” and Trump said that he'll be “signing something” on immigration. One would think these are related, but given that Trump has seemingly done a 180 in less than a day, it's fair to doubt whether the “something” Trump will be signing will actually address the issue or if it's designed to silence the uproar in response to these crimes against humanity.
Our best bet is to pressure our elected officials into doing something that can permanently help these refugees. Senator Dianne Feinstein has a bill that every Democrat has sponsored (and no Republicans) that could stop the practice of separating families immediately. Orrin Hatch is the only Republican to introduce a solution with no strings attached, as Ted Cruz's bill basically trades interning children at mass scale for interning families at mass scale. This all needs to stop. Now. And I haven't even gotten to the infant jails yet (yes, there are baby prisons in 2018 America).
It can stop though. Just because America has been an evil country doesn't mean it must continue. Congresspeople are being inundated with calls right now. That's when they listen. There are various ways to pressure them, and this helpful thread has all the resources you need to make a difference.
Please, whatever you do. Do something. As someone with a family member buried somewhere in Auschwitz, I can promise you that this is feeling hauntingly familiar to the horror stories I grew up hearing from my elders. Hitler admired American racial and immigration laws, after all. This all will likely get worse in the near-term, but we have the power to stop it—especially by voting Republicans out of office this November. Thousands of children’s lives depend on it.
Jacob Weindling is a staff writer for Paste politics. Follow him on Twitter at @Jakeweindling.