Human rights abuses continue on our Southern border, but there has been some good pushback. First, the bad news.
The worst parts have been the abuses reported from CBP “detention” camps, what most people would call concentration camps, as I noted here. Members of Congress visited the camps earlier this month, but little has changed. There are inmates with no running water, inadequate food, and cramped together. For example, DHS inspectors visited Paso del Norte, a facility near El Paso. They found it was holding 900 in a facility designed for 125.
Under this administration, at least 24 adults have died while in the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. At least 7 children have also died, the latest being a teen who committed suicide after being separated from her father and another Guatemalan boy who died of influenza.
This article is one of the most chilling and on-target posts I’ve read this week. Read the section from Mike Jones.
A US citizen, Francisco Erwin Galicia, was detained by CBP for three weeks, and not allowed to call his family. He lost 26 lbs during this period, was not allowed to wash and slept on the floor with an aluminum blanket, crowded in with many others. This imprisonment happened despite his providing the agents documentation with Texas ID, Social Security card, and a wallet-sized birth certificate. CBP apparently assumed the documents were fraudulent.
As an infectious diseases physician, this week’s decision to separate families if someone is HIV positive, is incredibly irrational. Rules were changed in 2010 to stop HIV being used as an excuse to prevent immigration once even the feds were forced to acknowledge that HIV is not contagious through casual contact. Yet CBP is keeping people in overcrowded conditions with highly infectious diseases being spread—including chickenpox, measles, and the flu. That’s what killed another child this week. The House passed a bill that would require CBP to provide basic levels of safety and hygiene. But even something that should have been nonpartisan passed only on a party-line vote with only Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) joining the Democrats. Unfortunately, we know the bill will die in the Senate.
On the good news front this week, it was uplifting seeing that a group of people in Tennessee protected one of their neighbors from ICE.
In Oklahoma, former Japanese-Americans, imprisoned by the US in internment camps during WW2, joined others to protest plans to detain immigrant children at Ft Sill. Protestors also included Native Americans separated from their families and relocated to Ft. Sill “boarding schools” and children of Holocaust survivors.
“Never Again Action” does inspiring work. June 30, there was a protest of the road providing access to the Elizabeth, NJ, detention center, with 200 participants. “The protestors sang Jewish prayers of healing and mourning to grieve for those who have fallen ill or lost their lives because of ICE and CBP’s inhumane policies.” Thirty-six were arrested.
Similarly, in this “Catholic Day of Action for Immigrant Children,” on July 18, with 70 protesters at the Capitol, a number of priests and nuns were arrested, including a 90 year-old nun.
The Lord’s Prayer filled the marble dome of the Russell Senate Office Building as 70 Catholic sisters, clergy & parishioners were led away in handcuffs. “Forgive us our trespasses,” the demonstrators recited. “As we forgive those who trespass against us.” https://t.co/Oj44frAmwU pic.twitter.com/7TQVpxtsOK
— Guthrie Graves-Fitzsimmons (@GuthrieGF) July 18, 2019
It is these active bystanders, or “upstanders,” that sustain my hope in these darkening times. While not all of us can or want to risk arrest in solidarity, each of us can find our way to support immigrants and asylum seekers. We all need to work to stem the rising tide of hatefulness in our country. And, despite our discouragement, we all must vote.
Remember, “Never Again is Now.”