Friday, June 21, 2019

Concentration Camps for Children

The 1997 Flores agreement states that immigrant children cannot be held for more than 20 days and must be provided with food, water, emergency medical care and toilets. In July 2017, US District Judge Dolly Gee found the Trump administration had breached the 1997 Flores agreement by not providing migrant children with appropriate food or hygienic supplies, housing them in cold facilities without beds. 

Department of Justice lawyer Sarah Fabian argued that the federal government had not violated Flores as it did not detail essential items such as soap or toothbrushes. Fabian argued that children in shorter-term immigration detention did not require soap or toothbrushes. Fabian said the Flores agreement was "vague" about such requirements.

"Are you arguing seriously that you do not read the agreement as requiring you to do anything other than what I just described: cold all night long, lights on all night long, sleeping on concrete and you've got an aluminium foil blanket?" He added that it was "inconceivable" that the government would describe those conditions as "safe and sanitary" Circuit Judge William Fletcher commented.
Fellow Judge A Wallace Tashima remarked: "It's within everybody's common understanding that if you don't have a toothbrush, you don't have soap, you don't have a blanket, those are not safe and sanitary conditions."
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, has called US-Mexico border migrant detention centres "concentration camps", similar to the Japanese internment camps set up during World War Two.
At least seven migrant children have died in US custody since late 2018, as a combination of policies spearheaded by Donald Trump as part of his much-vaunted immigration crackdown have led to scenes of chaos and meltdown at the border. Children and families are being held for days longer than the 72 hours allotted in grossly overcrowded facilities in which medical provisions are scanty at best. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Ice) will next week begin a mass roundup of “millions” of undocumented families including children

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Texas criticized Trump for showing disregard for families with children, saying “no human being should be held in the overcrowded and deplorable conditions that plague CBP holding facilities”.

Experts on childhood trauma are becoming increasingly alarmed about the effect that prolonged detention in ill-equipped and overcrowded facilities will have on thousands of child migrants. They arrive at the border already often weak and traumatised, having fled gang violence and other extreme conditions in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras before making the long and perilous journey north.

Physicians for Human Rights reported that Trump’s immigration stance was compounding the children’s trauma. “Children are being met at the US border with harsh, punitive policies that both violate their rights and severely affect their wellbeing.”

A facility to house over 1,000 undocumented children is set to open in Carrizo Springs, Texas—just days after almost 250 groups called on Congress to decriminalize migration. The Carrizo Springs concentration camp, which was initially built by Stratton Oilfield Systems as worker housing, will be run by BCFS Health and Human Services for the federal Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). BCFS runs child detention centers for the federal government in Tornillo, Texas. The new camp is in the process of being converted to hold children separated from their families by agents from Customs and Border Protection (CBP) or Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the sub-agencies of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that deal with immigration. HHS Office of Refugee Resettlement spokesperson Mark Weber says Carrizo Springs was not the only anticipated new facility that will be opened in the coming months as his agency "is preparing for the need for high bed capacity to continue."

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