I swear, I can’t keep up. But I’m trying.
So today ICE was supposed to do a massive nationwide sweep through migrant communities to deport a gazillion undocumented immigrants, but it was called off, or at least postponed for a couple of weeks. This may be because of ongoing negotiations with Mexico. But that radically subversive PBS Newshour suggested the real reason was that it might conflict with the rollout of a “Latinos for Trump” campaign in Miami.
The rollout is to be led by Mike Pence, btw, who may be the most un-Latino white man in America. More gringo than a hot dog, I think the phrase is.
As we approach the End of Days, we find outselves locked in many semantic arguments over real atrocities that we are perpetrating, because apparently what we call what we are doing is more important than what we are doing. There have been several in-depth news articles describing deplorable conditions in the concentration camps — I think use of the term is justified — in which we are holding small children in unsanitary conditions. The New York Times reported a couple of days ago:
A chaotic scene of sickness and filth is unfolding in an overcrowded border station in Clint, Tex., where hundreds of young people who have recently crossed the border are being held, according to lawyers who visited the facility this week. Some of the children have been there for nearly a month.
Children as young as 7 and 8, many of them wearing clothes caked with snot and tears, are caring for infants they’ve just met, the lawyers said. Toddlers without diapers are relieving themselves in their pants. Teenage mothers are wearing clothes stained with breast milk.
Most of the young detainees have not been able to shower or wash their clothes since they arrived at the facility, those who visited said. They have no access to toothbrushes, toothpaste or soap.
“There is a stench,” said Elora Mukherjee, director of the Immigrants’ Rights Clinic at Columbia Law School, one of the lawyers who visited the facility. “The overwhelming majority of children have not bathed since they crossed the border.”
See also Isaac Chotiner in the New Yorker for more appalling descriptions of conditions. It’s a wonder more children haven’t died, frankly. It’s possible many more have died than have been reported. Update: Law Professor Describes Poor Conditions Where Migrant Children Are Held.
Earlier in the week the Trump Administration sent a lawyer, Sarah Fabian, to argue to the Ninth Circuit Court that this is all perfectly fine. It’s also perfectly fine that little children are having to sleep on concrete floors under bright lights that never go off. The government is not required to provide soap or toothbrushes or give traumatized little children taken from their parents a place to sleep, the lawyer said.
It occurs to me that what the Trump Administration is spending to fight having to take care of children it is detaining would buy a whole lot of soap and toothbrushes. But the backstory to this atrocity goes back at least to the Reagan Administration, and no administration since has been innocent. Ken White wrote in the Atlantic,
The fault lies not with any one administration or politician, but with the culture: the ICE and CBP culture that encourages the abuse, the culture of the legal apologists who defend it, and our culture—a largely indifferent America that hasn’t done a damn thing about it.
The biggest difference is that the Trump Administration is more open about its inhumanity, apparently not seeing the problem. And, of course, because of Trump’s border policies many more children are being detained than ever before.
Instead of addressing an unspeakable atrocity going on right now, in real time, in our country, with the blessings of our government, people instead have been arguing about whether it’s appropriate to call the detention centers “concentration camps.” Yes, this is what you do when civilization has gone to hell. In the New Yorker, Masha Gessen argues that this argument really is about what’s acceptable, and what isn’t. We think of concentration camps, quite rightly, as something unimaginably horrible that can’t be allowed to happen. But if we don’t call them that, they’re okay.
In other news, last week Trump gave an interview to José Díaz-Balart of Telemundo and denied he had ever even suggested a family separation policy.
TRUMP: When I became president, President Obama had a separation policy. I didn’t have it, he had it. I brought the families together. I’m the one that brought them together. Now I said something when I did that.
DIAZ-BALART: Mr. President —
TRUMP: Watch. Many more people will come up. And that’s what happened. But President Obama is the one that built those prison cells.
DIAZ-BALART: I understand 2,800 —
TRUMP: Do you remember —
DIAZ-BALART: 2,800 children were reunited with their parents in the last year. We don’t even know. The government doesn’t even know how many children are still not with their parents. They don’t even know, which I find incredible.
DIAZ-BALART: My question is —
TRUMP: Are you ready? Under the Obama plan —
DIAZ-BALART: Sir, we’re talking about your plan.
TRUMP: We — no. No, we’re not. Because I’m the one that put people together.
The boy ain’t right. So we’re running concentration camps doing unspeakable harm to children, and the president of the United States is utterly demented and unfit to so much as answer phones at the White House, never mind run the country. But all this is supposed to be okay.