Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York) is now accusing the Trump administration of running “concentration camps” for undocumented immigrants on the southern border.
Rep. Ocasio-Cortez tweeted Tuesday morning that the Trump administration “has established concentration camps on the southern border of the United States for immigrants, where they are being brutalizing with dehumanizing conditions and dying.”
“This is not hyperbole. It is the conclusion of expert analysis,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted, linking to an article in which Andrea Pitzer — a scholar who has written extensively about concentration camps — likened the administration’s detainment of immigrants along the southern border to the concentration camps of Nazi Germany.
“Concentration camps are considered by experts as ‘the mass detention of civilians without trial.’ And that’s exactly what this administration is doing,” she added.
And for the shrieking Republicans who don’t know the difference: concentration camps are not the same as death camps.
Concentration camps are considered by experts as “the mass detention of civilians without trial.”
And that’s exactly what this administration is doing.
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) June 18, 2019
Last week, Esquire‘s Jack Holmes interviewed both Pitzer and Waitman Wade Beorn, who is a Holocaust and genocide historian and lecturer at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. Beorn emphasized that the idea of a concentration camp is not unique to Hitler or the Nazis, and that it can be any place where a group of people a government deems “undesirable” are detained.
“Things can be concentration camps without being Dachau or Auschwitz,” Beorn said. “Concentration camps in general have always been designed—at the most basic level—to separate one group of people from another group. Usually, because the majority group, or the creators of the camp, deem the people they’re putting in it to be dangerous or undesirable in some way.”
Republicans bristled at Ocasio-Cortez’s characterization of the Trump administration’s detention of immigrants. Congresswoman Liz Cheney (R-Wyoming) told her colleague to “do us all a favor and spend a few minutes learning some actual history,” reminding her that, unlike Hitler, Trump is not killing millions of detainees. However, Abraham Gutman, the editorial writer for the Philadelphia Inquirer and a descendant of Holocaust victims, told Cheney that “staying silent in the face of atrocities is how we demean the memory of the Holocaust.”
Hi. Jew here. Descendant of the Holocaust. The breaking down of communities, taring families apart, and dehumanization of Jews started well before the Final Solution. Staying silent in the face of atrocities is how we demean the memory of the Holocaust. Never Again is now. https://t.co/eEqsyIlhhE
— Every Overdose Death is a Policy Failure (@abgutman) June 18, 2019
As of this writing, 24 immigrants have died while in the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) according to NBC News. However, conditions for immigrants and asylum seekers in U.S. custody are often overcrowded and unsanitary. As Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-New Jersey) tweeted late last month, immigrants in U.S. custody are being crammed into cells by the dozens and given little room to move, with many having worn the same clothes for days or even weeks.
Potentially thousands of immigrant children in U.S. custody have been allegedly sexually assaulted by staff at immigrant detention centers — particularly following the implementation of the Trump administration’s short-lived “zero tolerance” policy, in which undocumented children were separated from their parents at the border. As the New York Times recently reported, even a four-month-old baby was taken away from their mother while the policy was in place.
Tom Cahill is a contributor for Grit Post who covers political and economic news. He lives in Bend, Oregon. Send him an email at tom DOT v DOT cahill AT gmail DOT com.