This is a submission by Emily Ryan and the following is a transcript, written out by Sorana B.
There is a heartbreaking epidemic in the United States — an epidemic which many corners of social media have been virtually silent about. This isn’t a Democratic issue. This isn’t a Republican, liberal, conservative, or Independent issue. This is a human issue. The safety and well-being of children are not — and will never be — a political matter.
Quick Facts: What makes these centers so bad?
- Thousands of children, including many under the age of one, are being detained. The numbers far exceed the facilities’ max population limits. It is extremely overcrowded.
- There are no parents/guardians, save for underage mothers. Seven-year-olds are taking care of infants — despite being unequivocally unqualified to do so.
- Many children have been detained for over a month and have no access or ability to bathe. There are no showers. In some locations, there are not even proper toilets. They have no soap, hairbrushes, toothpaste, and toothbrushes.
- Toddlers are not even given diapers and are therefore soiling themselves
- The children have been unable to have their clothing washed.
- Many children are sick. The overwhelming majority of that is contagious. These children are not being treated with proper medication.
- The children are locked in cells all day, with virtually no opportunity to play. A few children reported being given the opportunity to go outside, but said that they declined it because they are “trying to stay alive.” Those are words that a child should never have to say.
- The children are given the same very unhealthy meal every day (“instant oats for breakfast, instant noodles for lunch, a frozen burrito for dinner, along with a few cookies and juice packets”). Almost every child that the lawyers spoke to said that they were left hungry and were not getting enough food. Many children are malnourished.
- At the border patrol’s Central Processing Center in McAllen, Texas, lawyers found a 17-year-old mother who couldn’t stand because of emergency c-section complications. She was taking care of her premature baby. The baby was covered in dirt, and the center would not even give her water to clean the infant. This sort of scenario is common.
- Sleeping conditions include: Sleeping on concrete with nothing more than a foil blanket, extremely cold temperatures, and fluorescent lights on all night.
- Children are dying from these brutal conditions.
- Many of the children have developed mental illnesses including PTSD.
- Hundreds of children are being sexually abused.
- There are rats everywhere.
The fifth amendment of the U.S. Bill of Rights states that “No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury…nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law…”
In 1898 decision U.S. v. Wong Kim Ark, the Supreme Court ruled that the term “person” under the fifth amendment applied to aliens living in the U.S.
These children are being deprived of life, liberty, and property without due process of law, making these child detention centers unconstitutional.
Andrea Pitzer, a historian of concentration camps, has been quoted as saying that the “mass detention of civilians without a trial” makes these centers concentration camps.
Even if you disagree with the laws and terminology, do we want to be the sort of country that imprisons children for the actions of their parents? Remember, most illegal immigrants are here because legal immigration is so incredibly difficult. Oftentimes, it takes years for people to be accepted into the U.S., if they’re accepted at all. Often, these people are fleeing gangs and vicious wars. They’re coming to the U.S. because they fear for their children’s safety and for their lives. If you’re living in the middle of a civil war, you don’t have five years to wait for legal immigration.
When is it ever okay to afford rapists and murderers more rights than children?
Vicious career criminals are given better food, better healthcare, and better sleeping conditions. They are given proper hygiene/sanitary products, and often even have access to activities. I’m not saying that they shouldn’t have those rights — I’m saying that the innocent children should be treated at least as well as dangerous criminals. Yet, U.S. government lawyers have even gone as far as to argue — in court — that they should not have to provide things like soap or toothbrushes to these children. How are imprisoned infants, separated from their guardians, supposed to get soap?
There is no acceptable reason to subject thousands of children to abuse and trauma.
What you can do to stop these camps:
Call your representatives. If you don’t know who your representatives are, 5calls.org can tell you and provide the necessary contact information.
- Tell them that you demand an investigation of immigration enforcement and detention conditions.
- Tell them to refuse to allocate more funding to ICE.
- Tell them to properly fund immigration courts and processing of asylum applications. Remember, most illegal immigrants are here because legal immigration is so incredibly difficult. Quicker processing or asylum applications would lead to less so-called “aliens.”
- Stress how important this issue is to you — and that the representative’s actions will impact how you vote in the upcoming election.
Spread information about what’s happening via social media. Even if you don’t live in the U.S., chances are that you have some followers or friends that do.
Prevent even more children from being put into these camps. Post ICE raid locations so that families can avoid having their children seized.
If you’re able to, participate in or help organize protests.
This is not about politics. This is about safety.
One of the six main principles of our Constitution is limited government. The government only has the power that we give it. As Abraham Lincoln said, we are a government “of the people” and a government “by the people.”
The Preamble states that “We the People of the united states, in order to to…establish justice.”
We the People can get justice for these children.
We the People can shut down these camps.
Featured image via GQ