According to the Miami Herald, President Trump has invited yet another wave of criticism by looking at potentially creating tent cities for immigrant children.
In an exclusive, bombshell report, the Herald announced that Health and Human Services employees were looking at Fort Bliss, an army base near El Paso, as a location for the Trump administration to possibly construct a sprawling tent city to hold up to 5,000 immigrant children separated from their parents. HHS is also looking at Dyess and Goodfellow Air Force Bases, also in Texas.
These tent cities bring to mind the infamous work of Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio, who called “Tent City” — a massive open-air prison constructed with surplus Korean war tents south of Phoenix — a concentration camp in conversation with constituents. He later denied that remark.
People died in Tent City. They faced drastic temperatures and exposure to weather in Tent City. They faced racial profiling and brutality in Tent City. They worked in chain gangs in Tent City. They suffered daily under the cruelest and most unusual punishment in Tent City.
“In the summer, temperatures inside could reach up to 54C (130F) in the dry Arizona heat. Though there was an indoor air-conditioned unit where detainees could shower and take sick relief from the heat, they weren’t allowed to sleep there,” wrote The Guardian’s Valeria Fernández in a 2017 report. “Inmates were issued with pink underwear, pink sandals and used pink wet towels around their necks to ease the heat. The sheriff said he chose pink so prisoners wouldn’t try to steal them… On cold days, temperatures reached as low as 5C (41F). Holes torn in the tents let in the wind and rain, drenching the beds. Valdez and other prisoners made ropes to hold the tent canvases together out of black trash bags they had been given as raincoats.”
Arpaio was found in criminal contempt for his work as the “toughest sheriff”, but was later pardoned by Trump. He’s now running for Senate.
And Tent City is being re-branded for children.
More than 10,000 immigrant children are being held at HHS shelters, reported the Miami Herald, and those shelters are dangerously close to capacity. Arpaio’s dark experiment, which itself had racial overtones, will be the solution to this problem.
They’ll be loaded on to those special buses, taken to Fort Bliss and delivered to tent cities of their own.
“Detaining children for immigration purposes is never in their best interest and the prospect of detaining kids in tent cities is horrifying,” said Human Rights Watch researcher Clara Long. “US authorities should focus on keeping families together, ensuring due process in asylum adjudications and protecting the rights of children.”
But the Trump Administration compares undocumented immigrants to animals, and has no problem penning them in inhumane conditions. Without parents, without hope, without basic decency.
Katelyn Kivel is a contributing editor for Grit Post in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Follow her on Twitter @KatelynKivel.