The situation at our Southern border is horrific.
Innocent people who want to escape hardship and cruelty in their home countries and achieve the American Dream, and even those who have crossed into our country illegally, are being denied adequate and timely due process and subjected to harsh treatment that most thought was confined to the “dustbins of history.”
People who know history should recognize the name Andersonville.
For those who do not know the name, it refers to a prisoner of war camp the Confederacy set up towards the ending stages of the American Civil War to house captured Union soldiers.
Unfortunately for those soldiers, the Confederacy did not maintain good conditions at the camp. According to the account on the National Park Service Site:
“The Confederate government was unable to provide the prisoners with adequate housing, food, clothing, and medical care, Due to the terrible conditions, prisoners suffered greatly and a high mortality rate ensued.”
Does this sound somewhat familiar when we think about what is happening at the Southern Border?
When the war ended, the commander of the camp, Captain Henry Wirz was arrested, tried, and hanged for violating the rules of war.
Students of history should also easily recall the Nazi policy of separating Jewish, Gypsy, Slavic, and other non-Aryan Children from their parents like the description provided by Holocaust Survivors and others like Colorado Senator and current Presidential Candidate Michael Bennet.
Many of the people who supervised or worked in the camps, persecuting and murdering the victims wound up in front of war crimes tribunals. Many were executed.
Does this sound familiar too with what is happening at the Southern Border?
During World War Two, the United States Government hauled off American citizens, mostly Japanese (some Germans and Italians) into internment camps, denying them their rights of due process under the Constitution.
Does this also sound familiar to what is happening at the Southern Border, at least in some instances?
Even people not well versed in history should remember the events at the Abu Ghraib prison camp following the Iraq war in 2003. There United States soldiers, under orders from higher authorities (some blame Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Vice President Dick Cheney) tortured many Iraqi prisoners of war. Examples of what these “soldiers” did included soldiers putting prisoners on leashes, having dogs bite at them, have them hanging upside down naked, covering them in excrement, and making them perform sexual acts on themselves and others.
As evidenced by the many pictures taken by the cognitively and morally challenged “soldiers,” these people who signed up to defend our country, clearly seemed to enjoy what they were doing to their prisoners.
This is eerily similar to the Facebook statements uncovered in a report by ProPublica that shows border patrol workers (past and present) who vent their bigoted attitudes towards the people housed in the southern border detention centers, express prejudiced diatribes and wishes for horrible acts towards government officials like freshman Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and who question whether the photographs of the dead father and daughter who drowned last week in the Rio Grande was “fake.”
When visiting the detention centers yesterday, Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez claimed that people were forced to “drink from toilets” and that the supervisors were laughing at the horrible conditions. She also commented that what exists in these centers represents, according to a column by AzCentral’s EJ Montini “a violent culture.”
Texas Representative Joaquin Castro, the twin brother of the Presidential Candidate Julian Castro, commented on the Facebook posts that:
“It confirms some of the worst criticisms of Customs and Border Protection. These are clearly agents who are desensitized to the point of being dangerous to migrants and their co-workers.”
Do not let the Border Centers become the next Andersonville.
Do not let the Border Centers become the next Ghettoes or Concentration Camps.
Do not let the Border Centers become the next Internment Camps where people, because of their ethnicity were detained and their rights are taken away.
Do not let the Border Centers become the next Abu Ghraib.
Do not let the KKK President Donald Trump, former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Stephen Miller, and the other disgusting white nationalists in this government get away with these policies anymore.
Do not let the people who work in the centers become living examples of the scientific studies of Stanley Milgram where individuals, because they feel they are authorized by their superiors to treat the people in the facilities harshly, do so either because they fear retribution from their supervisors or because they were given license to fulfill their darkest fantasies.
The people overseeing the detention and supervision of the people in the centers should be mindful that there are laws governing how men, women, and children who are seeking asylum and who have crossed into the United States illegally should be treated.
These laws do not say anything about denying them basic care like toothbrushes or the ability to take a shower.
These laws do not say anything about denying them healthy drinking water.
These laws do not say anything about separating parents from their children for indefinite periods of time.
These laws do not say anything about allowing these people to be treated worse than actual criminals.
This is the United States of America in 2019 and we should be better than this.
We should have learned history’s lessons by now, govern fairly and decently and fashion comprehensive immigration policies that admit peoples that want to live the American Dream, process their cases in a timely manner, deport those who have not demonstrated they would be productive members of society, and secure all our borders (North, South, East, and West) with modern methods and equipment, along with sufficiently trained personnel.
This comprehensive immigration policy does not mean that people who cross into the country illegally should not be detained and deported. It does mean that both people legally wanting asylum and entering illegally should be treated with respect, decency, and dignity while all forms of due process are carried out and after legal procedures are completed.
Learn from History and let us get the right policy in place.
No more Andersonvilles
No more Concentration Camps
No more Internment Camps
No more Abu Ghraibs.
No more KKK Endorsed President and his White Nationalist allies in the United States Government.
Featured Image from ABC News who received if from Representative Joaquin Castro.