Editorial note: every time we tried to publish this list, new articles would be brought to our attention and the list just got longer and longer. So you can think of these as examples from the past month or so, because I needed to put a cap on it to finally publish this post.
Examples of Abuse and Neglect at American Detention Centers
“On the second or third day there, my daughter soiled herself … I asked if I could clean her because her underwear [was] soiled,” Fatima said. “The guards said, ‘No.’ … She remained in her dirty underwear until we arrived at Dilley [Texas] several days later.”
Immigrants from various facilities describe black lettuce, fetid water, and cold, crowded rooms.
At the El Centro CBP facility, in one room with three mattresses, “[Eighteen] women are in this room. Three are teenagers/minors.”
Karen said she could not sleep because it was so cold. “[M]y children cry from fear and from the cold. I can only hold one at a time to keep them warm. Whoever I am not holding is cold,” she said.
“This is the Guantánamo Bay for asylum-seekers.”
The Intercept reports that the Victorville facility is a “human rights crisis.” They describe detainees, grown men, who were crying and cutting themselves. They were locked in their cells 23 hours per day. There were numerous reports of immigrants being denied medical care, and clean clothes.
One asylum-seeker she met with had been allowed outside of his cell three times in as many weeks, and had not been given a clean change of clothes since the day he arrived… The ACLU lawsuit describes detainees being served spoiled milk with breakfast, and meat that appeared to be infested with worms or maggots.
A vegetarian lost fifteen pounds when he was forced to eat meat or nothing at all. They were not permitted to pray.
This article also reports a defense lawyer was prevented from visiting the detainees, and two guards boxed in her car so they could intimidate her for daring to look into the welfare of the immigrants. This is another warning sign of creeping fascism. If those in charge aren’t abusing their power they will have nothing to hide.
Audio version: https://pca.st/7J3s
Text version: https://theintercept.com/2018/08/02/immigrant-prison-abuse-california/
ICE Agent Possibly Gave Migrant Children HIV
At a Southwest Key child detention center in Mesa, Arizona, eight children were molested by one of their caretakers, for close to a year before the situation was brought to light. A clinical psychologist who helped develop shelter guidelines said she wasn’t surprised that alleged abuse went on for so long “because a lot of the children are terrified.”
Two Sexual Assaults in Texas Detention Center
“He touched me again inside the van, and my hands were tied. And he started masturbating.”
Detained Child Was Hit, Drugged without Parents’ Consent
“I am his mother. Please give me back my son.”In this report from the investigative journalism podcast Reveal, a 10-year old boy describes how he was physically hit, repeatedly by one of the staff at Shiloh detention center in New Orleans. “He also told me that all of the other staffers saw it happen and nobody intervened to help him.” The US government kept the boy for six months, despite the fact that his mother was not being detained and was in the same city.
“She had been desperately trying to reunite with him for months. I’ve looked through hundreds of pages of records that Maribel has kept from the time that he was there, just begging with the staff to please allow him to be released to her care. She’s saying, ‘I am his mother. Please give me back my son.'”
He was drugged for six months without his mother’s consent. “Children would come and take their medicine one by one, every night.” His mother called and asked if them to stop drugging her son, and they said that parents didn’t have any right over whether their children are drugged. Other facilities have described children being held down and drugged against their will.
Later in this recording, Reveal talks to foster parents who explain that the young children forcibly separated from their parents are so traumatized that they can’t be physically separated from their foster parents.
When I was asking the foster mom what was going on and if he was acting this way at home, she got really teary eyed talking to me and she just kept repeating over and over, “I’m just trying not to ruin his life. I’m just trying not to ruin his life.” I mean, this kid would yell out papa, papa, papa all the time and she couldn’t help him. She didn’t know where his papa was. She didn’t know if this kid had any siblings, or if he would be reunited with his father, or when he would see him again, or when he might communicate with them. She didn’t know anything.
They are not put in homes with foster parents who speak Spanish, and the children are so traumatized they wail if separated from physical contact even for a moment, to the point where the foster parents can’t bathe them.
Examples of Injustice Related to Detainees and ICE, CPB
ICE Withheld Contact List of the 400 Families Separated at the Border
The government claims family separation is an accidental consequence of their zero tolerance policy. But if that were true, they would not hesitate to assist in helping to reunite families. ICE has a phone contact list for the separated families, but withheld it from the ACLU for more than a month. Are the employees at ICE acting like impartial bureaucrats, or are they acting like they’ve dehumanized their charges to the point where they are happy to make 400 orphans? This is not the behavior of people who truly care about law and order.
ICE Agents Coerce Asylum Seekers to Choose Between Deportation and Seeing Their Kids Ever Again
The government has already taken their children from them. Now SPLC lawyers have witnessed multiple instances of ICE officials coercing refugees to sign a form with two options: get deported or lose your kids forever. This form is only supposed to be given to people who have already been to court and are immediately about to be deported. But these agents are coercing asylum seekers who still have many options to stay into filling out this form.
Creeping Fascism and American Immigrants
In America, Naturalized Citizens No Longer Have an Assumption of Permanence
The goal of this task force is to strip American citizenship from migrants deemed unworthy. American citizens who have lived here for decades, will be stripped of their rights and sent to a country where they don’t know anyone. (Can you imagine the horror?)
Immigrants have always fought alongside citizens, throughout the history of our country, even as far back as the American revolution. Now hundreds of soldiers who were promised citizenship are being expelled from the Army. Many waited for years for the opportunity to serve; some now face deportation.
There is no parallel in all of American history, but there is a parallel in world history: May 21 1935 – The Army Law expels Jewish officers from the army.
What You Can Do
To Oppose Human Rights Abuses in American Detainment Centers
You may be surprised how close you are to a detainment center; the first one that turned up in the news was in Pennsylvania! Find out where the nearest detention center is, and get a group of people to go there. The link above will walk you through it.
The detention center in Richmond, CA, is closing. There are immigrants there who could be freed if they could afford bail. If they can’t be
If you can’t donate to the link above, it would still help to share the link above with your friends. Tell them why this is important. A small group of my friends did that, and they have raised over $100,000 in bail money in two weeks!
Karma has a degree in writing and sociology. She’s an Americorps grad and a board member of the California Writers Club. Her first foray into human rights work was with the Westcott 12 activists who launched a 100+ day camp out in protest of sweatshop labor. Since then she’s organized with IndyMedia, Occupy Oakland, and most recently with Solidaridad Con Los Ninos, a group that organizes caravans to visit detainment centers. She loves street art, poetry, and dancing with wild abandon.