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Our Immigrant Prisons Are An Atrocity

| July 7, 2019

Undocumented migrants immediately after being seized by the U.S. Bordfer Patrol on June 15 near Los Ebanos, Texas. (Border Patrol)

Undocumented migrants immediately after being seized by the U.S. Border Patrol on June 15 near Los Ebanos, Texas. They don’t know where they’re headed. (Border Patrol)

By Lizet Ocampo

Over the past several weeks, the brutal terror that immigrants face at the hands of our government has come into even sharper focus. 

As reports surface about immigrant children sleeping on concrete floors and people being forced to drink water from toilets, one fact has become unmistakably clear: It’s well past time to demand an end to Trump’s cruel and inhumane treatment of immigrants.


These reports come on the heels of Trump tapping extremists like former Virginia attorney general Ken Cuccinelli to head his immigration agencies. Cuccinelli’s extensive anti-immigrant record includes comparing immigrants to pests and rats and working with people like Iowa Rep. Steve King, who has publicly identified himself as a white supremacist.

Appointments like these send a clear message that Trump will continue to weaponize federal agencies in his unrelenting assault against immigrants. But this administration’s dehumanizing treatment of immigrants isn’t just a political issue — it’s a moral one. Instead of providing immigrants the safety and security our country has long promised, Trump is violating their human rights and causing them to die.  

On July 2, the Department of Homeland Security’s internal watchdog released its latest report on the brutal living conditions of immigrant detention centers. Their findings paint a grim picture of severe overcrowding and denial of basic needs like food, beds, showers, functioning toilets, and vital medications.

other-wordsIn late June, they actually argued in court they aren’t required to provide small kids with soap, toothbrushes, or bedding.  

Many Americans first learned of Trump’s dehumanizing treatment of immigrants last summer, and watched with horror as his administration separated thousands of immigrant children from their parents. But though that policy was supposedly rescinded a year ago, the practice has continued.

Since then, hundreds of young children and infants have since been ripped from their families. The youngest to be separated was only four months old.

Today, hundreds of children are still waiting to be reunited with their families, a process that could take up to two more years. Every day these children spend in detention centers without their families exacerbates their psychological (and in some cases, physical and even sexual) trauma. 

Even during their last hours in government custody, innocent children endure needless harm. NBC recently released a horrifying set of emails outlining botched family reunification attempt that left children as young as 5 in sweltering vans for up to 39 hours. 

Since Trump took office, at least 24 immigrants — including six children — have died in government custody. Before last December, no child had died under the care of border protection agents in a decade. That figure doesn’t include tragic deaths like the father and daughter who recently drowned after unsuccessfully trying to request asylum at a closed port of entry. (Cuccinelli blamed their deaths on the father’s poor judgment.)

With the unrelenting onslaught of chaos flowing from the White House, it’s exhausting to keep track of every horrific action or policy this administration pushes. But human lives are on the line. 

Trump is tapping increasingly militant people to deny asylum seekers the safety and security they’re legally entitled to apply for and is threatening further deportations and other cruelties. Compassion and humanity have been replaced by hate.

This administration is moving full speed toward atrocity and the government-sanctioned traumatization of an entire community. But our country was founded upon the values of freedom, liberty, equality, and opportunity, even if we haven’t always lived up to them. 

We have a legal and moral obligation to ensure the safety we promise to asylum seekers. Enough is enough.

Lizet Ocampo is the political director of People For the American Way.

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28 Responses for “Our Immigrant Prisons Are An Atrocity”

  1. Ron Huxtable says:

    Simple solution. Make the Democrats do their job and eliminate the loopholes.

  2. ASF says:

    Our ACTUAL prisons are an atrocity. But I don’t hear ” Democratic Socialists” screaming about how something must be done about them RIGHT NOW, THIS MINUTE, I COMMAND YOU (or we’ll cut off all the funding to the Department of Justice!)
    Let’s face it..Trump is using these desperate people as a political ploy and so are the “pseudo-progressive” democrats.
    The entire world community should be pressuring the countries these people are streaming in from to do more to help their own citizens. Most of these people do not meet the legal criteria to be called “asylum seekers.” They are “economic refugees.”

  3. Lin says:

    This unenlightened propaganda is written by People for the American Way, a lobbying group & PAC funded by George Soros.

    Our country is so guilty of immigration atrocities that people are breaking into our prisons? Just too many lies in this article. The photo I saw in the media of that poor father and toddler who died in the river trying to break into this country breaks my heart but Libs blaming and shaming us for a broken immigration system promising more and more pots of gold to border crossers like free medical care and education while our citizens cope with dwindling funds for our own social security, Medicare, veterans and homeless MAKES me crazy. This article sheds no light on solutions and is part of the problem.

  4. EricR says:

    You keep using the term “immigrants”. They are “ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS” who have broken our laws and have no right to be here at all! If they don’t like the treatment they receive when illegally crossing our border, they may turn around and go home, or better still, don’t come in the first place!

  5. Anonymous says:

    Why should they be treated better than they are treated in a prison in their Country? They don’t treat American citizens any better in their Country. Commit a crime, pay the price. Their parents are no better for sending their children here while they stay back in their Country!

  6. South Florida says:

    I’m sorry for the children but the adults used them to gain access to the USA.
    We are to give asylum to horrendous conditions not every country every day. This is our tax payers money.

  7. Where are we going. says:

    Why do Americans not realize that the immigrants know the way they might be treated the way the media makes you believe. If they do it is similar to saying lets jump out of a plane without a parachute. I assume we as Americans are suppose to pay for the ones that choose to jump without the parachute. I am sorry they live in the place they do, just like i wish i was born into money. But hey i’m not and i’m going to make my money the right way and not by doing something illegal like selling drugs. So why can’t they come here the right way and not expose them selfs to the consequences that every other person that breaks the law has to.

  8. palmcoaster says:

    Blunt violation of human rights! Just despicable treatment of asylum seekers.

  9. Steve Fishbein says:

    The conditions are terrible there, but the sad thing is that someone has been screaming for almost a year and a half that it’s a crisis at the boarder but the holder of the checkbook team, cried it was a made up crisis. Same Shame………

  10. ConstantlyAmazed says:

    Hey, they can always go back to where they came from.

  11. mark101 says:

    This is Mexicos law on people that come into their country illegally.

    Under the Mexican law, illegal immigration is a felony, punishable by up to two years in prison. Immigrants who are deported and attempt to re-enter can be imprisoned for 10 years. Visa violators can be sentenced to six-year terms. Mexicans who help illegal immigrants are considered criminals.

    The law also says Mexico can deport foreigners who are deemed detrimental to “economic or national interests,” violate Mexican law, are not “physically or mentally healthy” or lack the “necessary funds for their sustenance” and for their dependents. So others countries are also not “nice” on illegal immigration.

  12. John Kent says:

    How truly horrible!
    I have a novel proposition though…. Let’s build a BORDER WALL and no need to house anyone anymore! Problem solved!!! And so simple too, wonder why NOBODY thought of it?

  13. Mark says:

    We have no obligation to provide for thousands of invaders. Come to the door.

  14. CB from PC says:

    Stay in own country if the facilities are so horrific.
    It is not up to hard-working taxpayers to provide for people who put their children in danger, while illegally entering the United States.
    We are a Nation governed by Laws and the Constitution.
    There is a process to Citizenship.
    If it requires an “update”, then that is up to the DEMOCRAT controlled Congress to come up with an ORDERLY means which permits criminal background checks, employment skills assessment, and symbolically, allegiance to the United States.
    Our elected officials of both Parties took an Oath of Office to uphold the Constitution and protect the interests of our Citizens.
    Fix it, or be removed from office.
    This current situation at the Border falls squarely on a Democrat controlled Congress which sees Illegals as the only way to muster votes for a Party which long ago forgot how to work for all Citizens in the United States.

  15. Russ Smith says:

    #1 They are “Holding Areas not Prisons! # 2 99% are denied entry as they fail to meet the requirements for asylum! #3 they are coming here to chase! the dream which is fine as long as you do it “LEGALLY” So Please stop the “Bleeding Heart Nonsense” Legal is Legal and Illegal is Illegal!

  16. Deputy 7 says:

    I suggest all you liberals who want open borders adopt an illegal and pay for and be held liable for them. Because I want to take care of America first. We have thousands of homeless families here and children who need the free education and healthcare before any illegal!

  17. name@name says:

    its not a concentration camp or a prison if you can avoid it by simply walking the other direction….

  18. Fredrick says:

    Easy fix…. OBEY and ENFORCE the law. Get in line and come here legally. Before you go say I’m heartless, go look at the homeless in our country who are legal citizens and then tell my why those who come here illegally, have no respect for our laws should be treated better then our own citizens.

  19. John says:

    If they don’t want to be separated from their children come here LEGALLY if they want asylum do it LEGALLY I know many people who came here the legal way and love it but also think that those people are breaking laws and should be locked up we’re all immigrants here but our ancestors came through Ellis Island and did it LEGALLY nobody said it was easy

  20. The Realist says:

    These people illegally crossing our borders are breaking Federal law. If the author or any snowflake out there were to break Federal law they can rest assured that they would be separated from their children as well. There is a process for immigration. My ancestors went through Ellis Island and jumped through all the hoops. My hunch is that if when the boat landed, they skipped the line and just started running through the streets of New York. Immediate deportation would have been in their future. This is the only situation I can think of where so many people are so willing to overlook the rules. I wish I could be standing in a line for something as important as a movie behind these people. I would casually walk past them toward the front of the line. When they would object which we all know they would for such a serious offense…. I would turn around and say “I’m a dreamer”

  21. Jim says:

    I have no sympathy for foreign invaders. These people are criminals. If you do not come through a authorized entry point you are breaking the law I do not want to hear about a better life . People who rob banks and carjack are also looking for a better life. I blame the Democrats for all this. Stop giving these criminals the idea that they are welcomed and will be taken care of

  22. Fuggetaboutit says:

    Odd…. in this story the word “immigrant” was used at least seven times and the word “illegal” not used even once!

  23. Jane Gentile-Youd says:

    Why is the word ILLEGAL missing from this tirade?

    No one who breaks any of our laws should be given more than the Mexican government gives those illegally entering their country.
    In 1975 when I entered Mexico with intentions of living in Guadalajara with proof that we could support ourselves our car was searched , our belongs were searched, our passports, visas , and my former husbands medical acceptance to medical school in Guadalajara was checked and we still had to pay a ‘mordida’ to enter their country. Our veterans didn’t sacrifice their lives for illegal immigrants; they sacrified

    • Pierre Tristam says:

      You’re right Jane. The illegality of our concentration camps is revolting. But it’s been old hat since Guantanamo, still the crown jewel of America’s indifference to law.

  24. Jane Gentile-Youd says:

    Concentration Camps are places where innocent legal citizens were transported to and tortured. Voluntarily illegally entering a country and being fed, and housed better than our soldiers were in Vietnam , Germany,Korea, Italy when they fought to save those of us legal Americans.

    Pierre I think the world of your local reporting; Flagler County would be in far worse shape without you; but on national issues we are worlds apart.

  25. capt says:

    These people are entering this country illegally. Its not very hard to understand.

  26. len hann says:

    What if we tell the illegals that if they don’t like the food, water, temperature, sleeping accommodations in our facilities they can feel free to follow the legal process of immigration and we will give them a ride back over the river, no charge.

  27. Richard says:

    And what specifically are other countries “indifference to law” relative to America’s? Any comment on that or is this just another America bashing article?

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