President Trump built his platform and garnered support around the promise of building a wall to keep immigrants from Mexico and other Central/South American countries from entering the United States. With the recent surge of politicians like him, such as Georgia Governor Brian Kemp who drove around a “deportation bus” during his campaign, being an immigrant or refugee in search of a new life is becoming increasingly dangerous.
On June 5th, the Trump administration announced their plan to decrease funding toward English classes, recreational programs, and legal aid for unaccompanied minors in ICE custody. The programs have been deemed “not directly necessary for the protection of life and safety, including education services, legal services, and recreation,” by the Department of Health and Human Services.
Detention centers in Adelanto, CA and Essex County, NJ “were not treated with the care required under ICE detention standards,” according to a report released on June 6th following an investigation by the Department of Homeland Security Inspector General in 2018. In this investigation, egregiously unsanitary and inhumane living conditions were found.
The report states the Inspector General “observed detainee bathrooms that were in poor condition, including mold and peeling paint on walls, floors, and showers, and unusable toilets.” But it’s not just bathrooms that were in unspeakable condition. One facility kitchen had boxes of raw chicken leaking blood all over the floor as well as moldy and expired food. When detainees weren’t subjugated to these conditions, they were mistreated by detention center staff.
According to the report, two facilities prematurely placed detainees in disciplinary segregation. ICE standards only require the use of disciplinary segregation when a detainee has committed a prohibited act, and at some facilities a hearing panel must find them guilty of the charged offense before placed in segregation. In addition to this, some centers completed strip searches with no documented justification. Detainees in segregation at Adelanto, Essex, and Aurora centers were not handled by the standards required by ICE which declares that “placement in disciplinary segregation alone does not constitute a valid basis for using restraints.”
Conditions and treatment like this have driven immigrants to want to take their own lives, as nooses made of bed sheets were found in 15 different cells visited by the Inspector General. Inedible food and unlivable conditions confounding with the recent cancellation of English and recreation programs, the treatment of immigrants by the United States government is nothing short of that in a concentration camp.
A concentration camp is defined as “a place where large numbers of people (such as prisoners of war, political prisoners, refugees, or the members of an ethnic or religious minority) are detained or confined under armed guard.” The US’s treatment of immigrants and refugees in search of a better life is a betrayal of the principles that founded our country. Fear mongering and the spreading of lies has pushed our country to stray from these principles.
But there are ways to help efforts at the border and in court to stop the inhumane treatment of immigrants.
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