Stephen Miller Getting A Little On The Nose With Latest Baby Jail
Barracks converted from racehorse stalls, San Bruno, California. Photo by Dorothea Lange, National Archives

The Trump administration announced yesterday it will open a "temporary" shelter for immigrant children at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, an Army base that was once used to imprison Japanese-Americans during World War II, not that America worries about "optics" anymore. The Department of Health and Human Services said it had selected Fort Sill as a "temporary emergency influx shelter" to hold kids waiting to be placed with sponsors -- much like the notorious shelter in a former Job Corps facility near Homestead Air Force Base in Florida, where despite the "temporary" designation, minors are often held for months.

The Military Timesreports Fort Sill was chosen after HHS considered two other military bases that are "no longer available." The camp at Fort Sill will house up to 1,400 minors in "'hard-sided' structures,' with semi-permanent, soft-sided structures used for support operations," according to a spokesperson from HHS's Administration for Children and Families. So hooray, indoor warehouses, not a tent city, so everything's fine! Just like a summer camp! With no recreation, education, or legal assistance, because this is a crisis, you know.

HHS says the shelter at the 150-year-old military base is needed due to increasing numbers of migrants at the border, citing a 57 percent increase in unaccompanied minors over last year. The agency is a bit less vocal about the fact that the process of placing asylum-seeking kids with sponsors has bogged down thanks to administration policies: Since HHS started sharing background checks with ICE, families of detained minors have been reluctant to apply to sponsor the kids. There's too much chance la migra will show up to arrest undocumented family members. It's almost as if the policy of trying to imprison and deport everyone had unintended side effects.

In any case, there's absolutely nothing to worry about, since Fort Sill has previously been used to temporarily house unaccompanied minors in the past, as Time notes:

In 2014, the Obama Administration placed around 7,700 migrant children on bases in Texas, California and Oklahoma, including Fort Sill. The temporary shelters were shuttered after four months.

The Military Times similarly points out that when Fort Sill was used to house migrant kids, it held about 2,000 minors, but it truly was temporary: The facility was used only for two months. Call us jaded, but we doubt there's any intention for the new "shelter" to be closed down after any similar period. The "temporary" facility in Homestead, for instance, has been running since early 2018, and was expanded in December -- even before the number of apprehensions at the border increased this spring.

Like Homestead, and the now-closed tent city outside Tornillo, Texas, baby jails on government property have a fun regulatory advantage over the HHS shelters contracted out to private nonprofits. Such "temporary" shelters are exempt from regulations that apply to other child-storage facilities, so there's no need for troublesome inspections by state child-welfare authorities, and the staff don't have to be licensed child-care workers, either.

Look on the bright side -- instead of being guarded by military troops, the kids will at least be interned by HHS personnel, not military troops. That tidbit, from Time,suggests the shelter will be run directly by HHS, unlike the Homestead shelter, which, as the country's only for-profit shelter for undocumented kids, makes really good money. But we won't be the least bit surprised if we later find out a private contractor is involved.

And so the USA continues to throw away whatever moral standing we may once have had -- but at least the rally crowds love it! Yr Wonkette has decided to not make any more sarcastic jokes about what depravities this administration might get up to. Hell, last summer we joked that the government might just as well reopen Manzanar, the infamous WWII internment camp for Japanese-Americans, and look where we are now.

[Time / Military Times / Photo: Dorothea Lange, National Archives (more here)]

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Doktor Zoom

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.


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