The Trump Regime's Concentration Camps

[Content Note: Nativism; abuse; human rights violations.]

Let me start by establishing that my use of the term "concentration camps" is not hyperbole.

Quoting dictionary definitions on the internet has become a punchline, but, in this case, it's informative. The Encyclopaedia Britannica defines concentration camps thus:
Concentration camp, 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. Concentration camps are to be distinguished from prisons interning persons lawfully convicted of civil crimes and from prisoner-of-war camps in which captured military personnel are held under the laws of war. They are also to be distinguished from refugee camps or detention and relocation centres for the temporary accommodation of large numbers of displaced persons.
That is a very basic definition, but it is also an accurate one.

A crucial part of the context here is Donald Trump's own words. Much like his Islamophobic rhetoric was cited by a judge halting his "travel ban," his relentless nativist talking points — which include the routine demonization of migrants and refugees, and the casting of arrivals as a national security threat, to justify the militarization of the border — situate the detention of migrants and refugees within a framework of war.

It is Trump's position, and the nativist agenda of his regime, that renders U.S. detention facilities distinct from "refugee camps or detention and relocation centres for the temporary accommodation of large numbers of displaced persons."

Also rendering them distinct is the fact that detainees cannot come and go as they please. They are not residents of refugee camps, but detainees in U.S. custody. With fewer accommodations and increasingly unlivable circumstances every day. Conditions at some of the euphemistically deemed "detention centers" have been described as squalid, and at least six children and two women that we know of have died in or soon after being held in U.S. custody.

At the L.A. Times, Jonathan M. Katz makes an urgent plea: "Call Immigrant Detention Centers What They Really Are: Concentration Camps."
If we call them what they are — a growing system of American concentration camps — we will be more likely to give them the attention they deserve. We need to know their names: Port Isabel, Dilley, Adelanto, Hutto, and on and on. With constant, unrelenting attention, it is possible we might alleviate the plight of the people inside, and stop the crisis from getting worse. Maybe people won't be able to disappear so easily into the iceboxes. Maybe it will be harder for authorities to lie about children's deaths.

Maybe Trump's concentration camps will be the first thing we think of when we see him scowling on TV.
All of the the above is preface to the following two stories demanding our attention:

1. W.J. Hennigan at Time: Trump Administration to Hold Migrant Children at Base That Served as WWII Japanese Internment Camp.
Fort Sill, an 150-year-old installation once used as an internment camp for Japanese-Americans during World War II, has been selected to detain 1,400 children until they can be given to an adult relative, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

...The children would be held inside facilities that are separate from the general on-base population. HHS personnel, not American troops, will oversee them.

...Fort Sill, located southwest of Oklahoma City, was one of several internment camps where Japanese-Americans were held during World War II. Between 1942 and 1946, the U.S. government forcibly removed an estimated 120,000 men, women, and children from their homes and incarcerated them across the country. Fort Sill was later used to hold German prisoners of war.
As Brittanie Shey noted on Twitter: "Ft Sill is also where Geronimo is buried because he and 300+ other Apaches were brought there as POWs."

The Trump Regime wants us to believe that the children held at this former and current concentration camp will be there only "temporarily" until they can be reunited with an adult family member, and certainly hopes we've forgotten that they created no way to link separated children with their parents and will be detaining children in violation of the Flores settlement.

These things, too, are what makes the Fort Sill facility distinct from anything other than a concentration camp.

2. Robert Moore at Texas Monthly: In El Paso, Border Patrol Is Detaining Migrants in 'a Human Dog Pound'.
After New Mexico State University professor Neal Rosendorf read a government report exposing dangerous overcrowding of detained migrants at the Paso del Norte International Bridge in El Paso, he headed to the port of entry to see if he could find anyone protesting conditions there.

When he reached the west side of the bridge, he encountered an unmarked open gate, which he walked through in the hopes of asking Border Patrol agents whether they had seen any protesters.

Continuing underneath and then past the bridge about 100 yards or so, he was stunned by what he saw — migrants who said they'd been held outdoors for weeks as temperatures rose to nearly 100 degrees.

Rosendorf described it as "a human dog pound" — one hundred to 150 men behind a chain-link fence, huddled beneath makeshift shelters made from mylar blankets and whatever other scraps they could find to shield themselves from the heat of the sun.

"I was able to speak with detainees and take photos of them with their permission," Rosendorf said in an email. "They told me they've been incarcerated outside for a month, that they haven't washed or been able to change the clothes they were detained in the entire time, and that they're being poorly fed and treated in general."

U.S. Customs and Border Protection took eight days to respond to Texas Monthly's questions about Rosendorf's discovery. In a statement this week, a CBP official acknowledged that the agency was detaining migrants outdoors for extended periods.
I don't know what I could possibly say to convince someone who refuses to be convinced that the Trump Regime is interning undocumented immigrants and asylum-seekers in concentration camps if that description alone cannot.

In yesterday's Check-In thread, Shaker era4allNOW asked for advice on what actions to take in response to this depravity beyond contacting our representatives and senators. I made the following recommendations:

1. Talk about it to anyone who will listen. There's a lot of ignorance and indifference that those of us who care must urgently challenge.

2. Contact any local organizations who are doing refugee resettlement work, providing social services to migrants and/or refugees, or offering legal aid. Ask them what they need.

3. Write a letter to the editor of your local paper and/or the closest big-city paper. A lot of folks still read those!

4. Support the work of individuals and/or advocacy organizations and/or news outlets who maintain focus on the crisis at the border in non-exploitative ways. That might mean financial support, or amplifying their work on social media, or volunteering your time (in the case of activist/legal orgs).

Please feel welcome and encouraged to leave additional avenues of support and/or resistance in comments.

Let us all do something today. Make some noise. Do not be silent.

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