Tent Cities for Kids Remind Me of WWII Internment Camps for the Japanese

“The workers at the Tornillo camp, which was expanded in September to a capacity of 3,800, say that the longer a child remains in custody, the more likely he or she is to become traumatized or enter a state of depression. There are strict rules at such facilities: ‘Do not misbehave. Do not sit on the floor. Do not share your food. Do not use nicknames. Do not touch another child, even if that child is your hermanito or hermanita [younger sibling]. Also, it is best not to cry. Doing so might hurt your case.’ Can we imagine our own children being forced to go without hugging or being hugged, or even touching or sharing with their little brothers or sisters?” – Concentration Camps for Kids: An Open Letter in NYR Daily

According to the NYR Daily article, physical conditions at Tornillo aren’t too bad. But then, too, the United States’ World War II internment camps for weren’t as bad as our Civil War era POW camps. When most people today look back the internment of 110,000 to 120,000 Japanese in ten camps without probable cause, we ask “How could such a thing happen in this country?”

Tornillo camp – Wikipedia Photo

At present, the U. S. has detained 12,800 immigrant children and teens. On the plus side, we’re about a hundred thousand detainees short of the numbers of Japanese tossed into camps between 1942 and 1945 because Of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066.

So, can we look at today’s numbers and say we’re doing better, that we’ve learned from past mistakes, and that we’ve become more humane and fair three-quarters of a century later because our detained children numbers are much lower? We can, I suppose, but if we do it would be rather like a killer bragging that he didn’t murder as many people this week as he did last week and should be judged a better man for it.

I do not believe in so-called open borders, much less sanctuary cities and proposals that undocumented aliens should be allowed to vote, to have drivers licenses, jobs, and unlimited health care. That’s unfair to immigrants who are going through normal channels to get green cards and possibly work toward legal citizenship. That’s also unfair to those who must pay for those undocumented aliens.

But internment camps aren’t the answer. Border operations and immigration regulations are flawed as are laws that apply to those who cross illegally between ports of entry. The process of granting asylum is difficult and lengthy. Is it also flawed? Perhaps so. It will probably take a bipartisan congress with positive public support to get rid of those flaws. Meanwhile, putting kids in camps is even more flawed.

By watching the news, we hear the arguments and solutions from the two primary political parties. But they’re deadlocked and have been deadlocked about immigration issues for a long time. This is also a flawed situation, made worse because we’re hearing more from the ultra-left and the ultra-right than from the moderates in both parties. When there is nothing but extreme views on the table, the problem looks harder to solve than it should be. So, we ponder it and squabble about it while those children remain in the tent cities.

–Malcolm

 

 

 

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