While the comparison of immigrant detention facilities to concentration camps has been a controversial topic, scholars have largely agreed that the analogy is correct. But there’s another analogy the situation begs: We may be living the movie Children of Men.
Children of Men is a 2006 movie set in a dystopian 2027 United Kingdom in which refugees fleeing plague have prompted a dramatic, draconian response from a police state. Migrants are rounded up, interned and eventually executed by British armed forces. As dramatic as this sounds, the depiction of migrant internment is darkly familiar.
Warren Binford, a law professor at Willamette University and the director of its clinical-law program, spoke to the New Yorker earlier this month to describe the reality American migrants in 2019 are facing. Though there are active court cases, she explained that lawyers were so disturbed by the realities in detention centers that they took the rare step of speaking to the media about ongoing litigation.
“[W]e 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. And so they were given a lice shampoo, and the other children were given two combs and told to share those two combs, two lice combs, and brush their hair with the same combs, which is something you never do with a lice outbreak. And then what happened was 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 on Wednesday night as punishment for losing the comb. So you had a whole cell full of kids who had beds and mats at one point, not for everybody but for most of them, who were forced to sleep on the cement.”
That’s hardly the only tale of terror from migrant detention. Multiple children have died in custody since December and though the policy of family separation has formally ended it continues in a diminished fashion. So bad are conditions that employees of Wayfair, a company that supplies furniture for the camps, walked out Wednesday afternoon in protest.
Facilities face dangerous overcrowding and rapidly deteriorating conditions that have compelled the acting Inspector General to recommend immediate action to address these issues. There are reports that a Border Patrol agent presented a two-year-old to a group of other children and asked who would take care of him.
“The conditions within which they are held could be compared to torture facilities,” Dolly Lucio Sevier, a physician, wrote in a medical declaration on the subject of interned children.
So we at Grit Post decided to conduct an experiment: we ask you to determine which of these 24 photos are from America’s migrant detention centers, and which are from the 2006 dystopian film Children of Men. An answer guide is below.
1. Immigrants under the Paso Del Norte bridge in El Paso, Texas in March of 2019. (Photo: El Paso Times/USA Today)
2. Children of Men, 2006
3. Immigrants under the Paso Del Norte bridge in El Paso, Texas in March of 2019. (Photo: Twitter/Nick Miroff/The Washington Post)
4. Children of Men, 2006
5. Immigrant detention center in McAllen, Texas in May 2018 (Photo: YouTube/CBS News courtesy of U.S. Customs and Border Protection)
6. Children of Men, 2006
7. Children of Men, 2006
8. The bodies of 26-year-old Óscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez and his 23-month-old daughter, Valeria, still embracing after drowning trying to cross the Rio Grande into Brownsville, Texas (Photo: Julia de Luc/La Jornada)
9. Immigrants being detained along the U.S./Mexico border in May 2018 (Photo: YouTube/VICE News/HBO)
10. Immigrants being held under the Paso Del Norte bridge in El Paso, Texas in March 2019 (Photo: YouTube/PBS NewsHour)
11. Immigrants being held under the Paso Del Norte bridge in El Paso, Texas in March 2019 (Photo: Twitter/Nick Miroff/The Washington Post)
12. Children of Men, 2006
13. Immigrants crossing the U.S./Mexico border to request asylum (Photo: YouTube/PBS NewsHour)
14. Children of Men, 2006
15. Immigrant children sleeping on the floor at the immigrant detention center in McAllen, Texas (Photo: YouTube/CBS News)
16. Children of Men, 2006
17. Immigrants being detained along the U.S./Mexico border (Photo: YouTube/PBS NewsHour)
18. Children of Men, 2006
19. The immigrant detention center at Clint, Texas (Photo: YouTube/Associated Press)
20. Children of Men, 2006
21. Immigrants being detained along with U.S. Mexico border (Photo: YouTube/Vice News/HBO)
22. Children of Men, 2006
23. Immigrant children being led into the immigrant detention center in Clint, Texas (Photo: YouTube/Associated Press)
24. Immigrant children being detained at the immigrant detention center in McAllen, Texas (Photo: YouTube/CBS News courtesy of U.S. Customs and Border Protection)
Katelyn Kivel is a contributing editor and senior legal reporter for Grit Post in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Follow her on Twitter @KatelynKivel.