Demand accountability

Layne Stracener

At least seven children have died in immigration custody since last year, after almost a decade in which no child reportedly died while in the custody of U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Border Patrol agents are keeping the migrants uncomfortably cold in cages and severely overcrowded facilities for weeks, not allowing them to have basic hygiene or medical care and not giving them adequate food or water. Children have to take care of other children in some facilities. Children are sick and being neglected. This is torture.

Why is the fact that migrants in U.S. detention should not be treated as less than human even a topic of debate? If you don’t believe this is a problem, you need to practice empathy. Put yourself in their shoes. These are human beings that are being mistreated and neglected at the hands of the government. The fact that this is happening and that people are saying they deserve this is appalling. How can you justify treating other people this way, especially children?

People have said they deserve it because they came to the United States illegally. That argument doesn’t apply to children, not that it should even matter. Also, many of the children and families in federal detention are seeking asylum legally. They are fleeing violence. The United Nations reported that current homicide rates are among the highest ever recorded in Central America.

The Trump Administration has forcibly returned asylum seekers to Mexico. They broke the law to keep asylum seekers from seeking safety in the United States and they are breaking the law by not giving these migrants basic care. President Donald Trump even blamed it on the migrants, tweeting “If illegal Immigrants are unhappy with the conditions in the quickly built or refitted detentions centers, just tell them not to come.” This is hypocritical, and the unsafe conditions are clearly intentional.

The controversial topic of whether these facilities are concentration camps has also been a topic of discussion recently. If we have to debate if this is what they are, that usually means that it’s what they are. Dictionary.com defines concentration camps as “a place where large numbers of people, especially political prisoners or members of persecuted minorities, are deliberately imprisoned in a relatively small area with inadequate facilities.” This situation fits the exact definition of concentration camps. None of this should even be a debate.

The Texas Tribune reported that people tried to donate items such as diapers, wipes, soap, toothpaste and toys to a Border Patrol facility holding migrant children, but the border patrol agents didn’t accept them. Under the Antideficiency Act, the government can’t spend any money or accept any donations other than what Congress has allocated to it. There should not be a policy preventing people, especially children, from receiving basic needs.

Last month, the Trump Administration cut funding for classes, recreation and legal aid at detention centers holding minors. Our leaders are encouraging the mistreatment of migrants and taking away funding when we desperately need more.

Trump has portrayed immigrants as job-stealing criminals, he has stated that there is an illegal immigration crisis where there is not, he has separated thousands of children from their families and he has purposely kept migrants from receiving basic care. The administration argued that children sleeping on concrete floors in overcrowded cells, without soap, toothbrushes or proper food and water were being kept in “safe and sanitary” facilities, as required by law. This is obviously not safe or sanitary. Children are dying because they are not receiving proper care. This is a crime.

The Trump Administration, due to its immigration policies, and Border Patrol agents, who even joked about the deaths of migrants, according to ProPublica, need to be held accountable, and the U.S. needs an immigration policy that combines border security with basic human rights.

 

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