Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Have We Always Had Concentration Camps?

I've noticed a new phase in the conservative defense of the migrant concentration camps recently emerged. They've gone through several stages, which I'm just going to bullet list right here:

  • They're not separating kids from parents
  • They are separating kids from parents but it's a good thing
  • The conditions of the prisons the kids are kept in are like summer camp
  • Conditions are bad but they're totally not concentration camps
  • Okay they are basically concentration camps but they're Obama's fault

Yeah. We're at that last point now.

I've seen an increasing number of conservative Twitter accounts blaming Obama for our current concentration camp situation in which we have fucking concentration camps. At the same time, I've seen people on the left pointing out that the conditions in the migrant detention centers that absolutely did increase in number under Obama were much the same when he was President. Someone who worked with migrant children at the time say the kids described a lack of supplies, being unable to shower, and children having to look after other children.

I'm going to admit to something horrible here. The idea that we've had concentration camps the whole time and maybe we only do care now because we hate Trump was weirdly comforting. It somehow made it all seem less horrifying and made it seem like Trump's being elected to the office of President actually has some kind of meaning and could even be a good thing overall.

I'm not proud of feeling any of that, but I'd rather we all be aware of our feelings and impulses around all this shit. I couldn't help feeling that way but I can recognize that it's fucked up and analyze why I feel that way.

However, the horrific overcrowding problem is new, and that problem is uniquely Trump. Donald Trump attacked the former policy that he called "catch and release" because we used to arrest people caught crossing the border in a way we consider to be "illegal," give them a court date, and let them go. A really good way to avoid prison overcrowding is to not keep a shit ton of people whose crime is "walking across an invisible line we decided on after we stole Texas from Mexico" in prison.

But Trump told everyone that these people would never show up for their court dates and would run amok in the U.S. tying up women and killing white babies because racist fearmongering is great for votes. So despite the fact that over 99% of the migrants "caught and released" under the old policy did show up for their court date, especially after the Obama administration implemented a program that helped undocumented migrants get better legal council, Trump declared that they all have to be held in detention until they can see an overworked immigration judge.

And now, surprise! We have horrible overcrowding.

So as usual, when you look at the details, Obama was not just as bad, but yes, conservatives, I WAS critical of Obama's immigration policies and was one of the many leftists calling him the deporter-in-chief before your favorite racist fuckbucket took over and made things a thousand times worse. And I didn't even get into Trump's family separation policy, which is definitely still happening even though they said they stopped.

But if and when we can shut down the concentration camps, we are going to need to contend with the fact that we treated detained migrants very badly all along. We're also going to have to consider what the fuck our prisons are, seeing as they're overcrowded, unsanitary, and refuse to supply inmates with basics like underwear, menstrual pads, or decent fucking food, and we're increasingly incarcerating children. And we've accepted this under the excuse that "they committed a crime," which is the same excuse conservatives are making about undocumented migrants.

So even if you consider overcrowding to be necessary for something to be a concentration camp, we've still pretty much had them for people like 18-year-olds caught with some weed and Black people who encountered a cop at some point. 

Abolish prisons.

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