Sorry, You Have To Bear Witness For The Children Again
Donald Trump's family separation policy just keeps bringing us all sorts of amazements. The administration has less than a week to meet a court-imposed deadline to reunite some 2,600 migrant families, and in the meantime we keep learning more and more about the fine things our government has been up to in the name of protecting the border. Yesterday, Texas Tribune reporter Emma Platoff posted a Twitter thread with excerpts of immigrants' statements in court filings. It reads like the first draft of a history that future Republicans will demand not be mentioned in AP exams, because it really doesn't help that "shining city on a hill" fiction they love so much. It's such a terrific city that its current rulers think they need to destroy any brown people trying to get in.
Here's a 13-year-old girl from Honduras describing part of her time in federal detention.
Keeping the lights on all the time, no windows, no sense of time, and a promise that she could talk to her mother at six o'clock -- but no, the guard wouldn't tell her what time it was. Just some basics out of the torturer's handbook. Disorient the subject so they'll lose hope and talk. Except, oops, this is a little girl, not a terrorist (OR IS SHE?). Be glad you weren't waterboarded!
Platoff describes this next one, by a 19-year-old mom from Guatemala who crossed the border with a 3-year-old daughter, as possibly describing "due process violations":
Yr Wonkette is no immigration lawyer, and we know that in immigration courts, there's no right to have free a public defender -- and Jeff Sessions has also ended a program that brought in volunteer attorneys to educate people in ICE detention about their rights. But refusing to provide a translator and not letting someone even call an attorney just might be outside the bizarre norms of immigration courts. One thing that's definite: Attorneys make the difference between immediate deportation and a shot at asylum. Nonprofits are working like crazy to help migrants get representation, and you should consider a donation.
Due process? Rights? Not for you: This is from a pregnant 15-year-old from Chiapas, Mexico.
There's so much more. A 20-year-old breastfeeding mom from Honduras who said she's worried that since she's not getting enough food herself, "I am not making enough milk now to feed my baby," a one-year-old. A 21-year-old woman who was picked up with her 4-year-old niece, then taken away to another CPB while the little girl was sleeping in the "icebox," without any explanation that she wouldn't be seeing the niece again.
A 17-year-old girl describes a rare moment of sort-of kindness: A guard asked if she'd had a chance to say goodbye to her mom, then went and got her mother -- before mom was shipped away to another detention facility. The same girl describes the treatment of a two-year-old girl kept in a holding pen with her; the staff told older children -- not related to the little girl -- to look after the toddler and change her diaper:
And of course, we're told all the time about what terrific, humane treatment the children get once they're transferred to baby jails run by HHS, which surely makes up for the psychological trauma. Looks like somebody forgot to tell Customs and Border Protection, though, as this statement from a 13-year-old girl from Guatemala makes clear:
I am held in a small room with about 10 other girls. We share two mattresses between us. We cuddled together on the mattresses and stayed warm. I also had a foil sheet to sleep w/
I have received noodle soup, but it is not very warm water so the noodles are not always fully cooked. I have received juice boxes and some crackers. But I have not received any water since I arrived. The lights are kept on all night long.
Don't forget: America is the greatest country on earth, and to keep it that way, we have to treat people like this to deter others from committing the misdemeanor offense of crossing the border without papers. That's in the Bible, you know.
Oh, and about that "city on a hill" thing? As Sarah Vowell reminds us in The Wordy Shipmates, her excellent book about the Massachusetts Bay Colony, preacher Jonathan Winthrop never called it "shining" -- that was Ronald Reagan. And the metaphor wasn't about America being the absolute best. It was a warning to the Puritan immigrants that a city on a hill can be seen by everyone, so its inhabitants must always be on their best behavior lest they bring shame on the place.
No, can't think of a single reason anyone would forget the real context of that line.
[Emma Platoff on Twitter]
Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.