Jun 20, 2018
The Autocracy Behind The Separation Policy
So this is making America great again — separating babies from their parents and throwing them in cages. And simply because it’s cruel and inhumane and only effects brown babies, the Trump base eats it up. What a show of strength!
While our thoughts and actions should rightly be focused like a laser on the abject cruelty and inhumanity of this government-sponsored child abuse supposedly done in our name, we should also not lose sight of the increasing autocracy that the Trump administration has engaged in during this crisis.
Until the truly disturbing AP report last night, we did not know that the government had set up at least three secret prisons to house babies and young children. The Trump administration refused to provide the location of these secret detention facilities and has also refused to provide information on where girls are being detained. Inspections of these facilities have often been denied to members of Congress and the press, and ones that are set up are carefully controlled with no direct contact with the detainees and no pictures. Government officials routinely refuse and/or fail to answer some of those most basic questions about what is happening in these facilities and what the process for reunification would actually entail. Much of what we know about what really goes on in these detention facilities primarily comes from leakers and whistleblowers.
Most of these detention centers are actually not government facilities per se but supposedly non-profit facilities that have contracts with the government to handle immigrants and refugees awaiting some kind of adjudication. I have no doubt that some of these facilities are well run and staffed by competent and caring people. On the other hand, you have to have some doubts about some of these non-profits. Casa Padre, the facility Senator Merkley was barred from entering, is run by the non-profit Southwest Key. The husband and wife team that runs Southwest Key, president and vice president respectively, received over $1.7 million in compensation in 2016. That seems more in line with a private for-profit prison than an actual non-profit.
More importantly, these detention centers are not national security facilities nor are they technically even prisons, although they function effectively just like one, and there is no reason that members of Congress and the press should not be able to enter these facilities almost at any time. Certainly, the facilities should not be allowed to take weeks to set up inspections and images from these facilities should not be provided solely by the government. And now that these non-profit facilities are filled to capacity, there is no reason that the government should be opening up new facilities in secret and actively preventing journalists and members of Congress from being able to inspect them.
It has been reported that Trump refused to take any questions from Congressional Republicans when he went to Capitol Hill yesterday. The President loves the press gaggle where he can ignore questions he doesn’t want to answer and continually lie when responding to the rest. He has held only one real press conference since his inauguration. He continually makes proclamations and policy without any of the proper legal and bureaucratic preparation required, as this policy of separation illustrates. In essence, he acts like a dictator. In addition, both Trump and his administration officials continually lie about the separation policy and refuse to provide even the most basic details.
Of course, the Republicans in Congress love to mouth opposition to the administration’s abusive and authoritarian separation policy but they will do absolutely nothing to fix it. America’s corporate leaders, still gorging on their massive tax cuts, take a similar stand as Republicans, condemning the policy but taking no action, such as withdrawing from contracts that facilitate this inhumanity. In fact some, like Goldman Sachs chief Lloyd Blankenfein, are actually trying to put up a pathetic defense of this inhumane policy.
Secret prisons are hardly new for America. But in the past we have used the auspices of war and other primarily authoritarian regimes to provide those secret CIA prisons for us. Now that feature of authoritarian rule has come to the American mainland. And, whether under Trump or the next would-be dictator, you can be sure that the next set of inmates for those secret prisons will be far more threatening to the government than Central American babies. And that should scare us all far more than refugees fleeing violence and murder largely created by American policy.
Originally published at tidalsoundings.blogspot.com on June 20, 2018.