Refugee situation — resources and news

Planet Waves articles

Caring in Action: the Cancer Eclipse by Amanda Painter

On the Turning Away by Eric Francis

Hell’s Bells by Eric Francis (originally published 1998)

The history of concentration camps

An Expert on Concentration Camps Says That’s Exactly What the U.S. Is Running at the Border — Esquire, June 13, 2019

The expert is Andrea Pitzer, author of One Long Night: A Global History of Concentration Camps. The article points out that “Not every concentration camp is a death camp—in fact, their primary purpose is rarely extermination, and never in the beginning. Often, much of the death and suffering is a result of insufficient resources, overcrowding, and deteriorating conditions.” They have not just existed in Nazi Germany; they were invented at the turn of the 20th century.


“But by Pitzer’s measure, the system at the southern border first set up by the Bill Clinton administration, built on by Barack Obama’s government, and brought into extreme and perilous new territory by Donald Trump and his allies does qualify.”

The article goes on to talk about Guantanamo Bay’s history, and how these ‘grey areas’ of human rights have facilitated the current situation. What’s interesting here is that there’s clearly been an issue with US policy for some time — though it’s got much worse under Trump and Miller.

Concentration Camps Existed Long Before Auschwitz — Smithsonian, Nov. 2, 2017

Background to present

1) Here’s an article by Vice from last year on the history of violence in Central America, and how it was largely driven by the US.

2) A year ago, in June 2018, Jeff Sessions severely restricted the conditions under which a person can apply for asylum.

3) Here’s a trick we might have missed: in November 2018, Trump issued a declaration disqualifying anyone who crosses the border ‘illegally’ (that is, not through a port of entry) from the right to asylum.

“The Trump administration has claimed to use its legal discretion over who is eligible for asylum. But under U.S. law, any migrant who has been on American soil for under a year has the right to apply for asylum — regardless of whether they have entered legally or illegally.”

4) Mark Morgan was appointed by Trump to Acting Director of ICE, named May 5, commenced May 28

Mark Morgan was actually Obama’s chief of border patrol. (The Obama administration wasn’t exactly friendly to refugees; there were still documented cases of abuse and neglect, and the gradual rise over decades in deportations was continued. The attitude to immigration has been problematic for many years.) Previously he’d worked with the FBI.

In January, Morgan said on a Tucker Carlson interview that he could tell refugee kids would become a MS-13 gang member by looking at them:

‘“I’ve been to detention facilities where I’ve walked up to these individuals that are so-called minors, 17 or under,” Morgan said on “Tucker Carlson Tonight” in January. “I’ve looked at them and I’ve looked at their eyes, Tucker — and I’ve said that is a soon-to-be MS-13 gang member. It’s unequivocal.”’

On appointing him, Trump tweeted: “Mark is a true believer and American Patriot. He will do a great job!”

5) Stephen Miller, a far-right activist, remains a prominent, if shadowy, figure in the Trump admin. He apparently endorsed Morgan for his current role. From his Wiki (citations live at original page):

“As a speechwriter for Trump, Miller helped write Trump’s inaugural address.[4][5][6] He has been a key adviser since the early days of Trump’s presidency. An immigration hardliner, Miller was a chief architect of Trump’s travel ban,[7][8][9] the administration’s reduction of refugees accepted to the United States,[10] and Trump’s policy of separating migrant children from their parents.[11] He has prevented the publication of internal administration studies that showed that refugees had a net positive effect on government revenues.[12][13] Miller reportedly played a central role in the resignation in April 2019 of Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen, who he believed was insufficiently hawkish on immigration.[14][15]”

6) Several recent events indicate a change in attitude to immigration. For example: in April, a judge was charged for helping an undocumented immigrant escape ICE. ICE were waiting outside the front door and the man was let out the back.

And of course there was the “immigrants should be shot” incident in May, shortly after Morgan was named.

Current situation

The recent outcry has arisen over this AP report that outlined horrifying living conditions for child detainees at a facility in Texas – children looking after other children, flu outbreaks and poor hygiene, malnutrition and other concerns. Following this report the children were moved out of the facility, but 100 have since been moved back in.

More info here:

“We received reports from children of a lice outbreak in one of the cells where there were about twenty-five children, and what they told us is that six of the children were found to have lice.

“They were given a lice shampoo, and the other children were given two combs and told to share those two combs … which is something you never do with a lice outbreak.

“One of the combs was lost, and Border Patrol agents got so mad that they took away the children’s blankets and mats. They weren’t allowed to sleep on the beds, and they had to sleep on the floor … as punishment.”

The Trump admin has argued in court that detained children do not need toothbrushes, soap or sleep. Previously, it cancelled recreational activities and English lessons, deeming them unnecessary.

Facilities for migrants in general are also reported to have unsafe and unhealthy conditions.

The Trump admin recently planned a wave of raids on thousands of immigrants, which have since been delayed following intervention from Nancy Pelosi.

This Vox article informs that Bernie Sanders is using his mailing list to warn about ICE raids.

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