I am appalled at the Senate and the House of Representatives for supporting the child concentration camps at the border with your recent spending bills. Shame on you and your colleagues. It contained everything that 45 wanted, with no provisions for oversight, enforcement of humane treatment, or, indeed, the camps’ closure. You have increased the profit of profiteers of human misery. I have been repeatedly writing you, my public representatives in DC, to end these concentration camps ever since 45 started his “no tolerance policy.” Quite a while back I explained why they are concentration camps. Apparently it is still necessary, as the GOP and the Democratic leadership is unable to comprehend what the term means.
The children are being detained for political reasons, without trial, due to their racial profile, and in terrible conditions. The US, to its shame, has done this before. It did it to Germans in WWI and Japanese in WWII. The Nazis also did it to Jews, LGBT, and Roma in WWII. The Japanese did it to the Chinese in WWII. In all of these cases, the camps started just as the detention of these children. None of them started as explicit death camps, though some of them became so.
It is legal under US and international law to enter a country to seek asylum. Simply being Hispanic does not make one a criminal. Even if one granted the faulty premise that all of these people were criminals, tearing children from their families remains inhumane, contrary to their rights, and in violation American values—human diginity and worth, freedom, and, yes, immigration.
Immigration is an American value, inscribed famously on the symbol of American freedom on the NJ island:
“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door”
It does not follow this by saying, “And we will rip your children from you and put them into concentration camps, where they will be abused, starved, psychologically scarred, and killed.” As several of the Democratic candidates for president said last night, the current US policy is merely state-sponsored kidnapping and torture. Both of these are crimes under US and international law.
It is your duty to end these concentration camps before they turn into death camps. It is time for you to rediscover your compassion and sense of humanity, rather than political ambition and fear of defeat at the polls. Your job is not to protect your party or to get re-elected. Your job is to do the right thing. Concentration camps are never the right thing.
I am furious over the treatment of children by the state. Moreover, the Jewish and Christian traditions understand God to be on the side of the marginal, the weak, and the foreigner. Exodus 22:21, 23:9, “You shall not wrong or oppress a resident alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt.” Lev. 19:33, “When an alien resides with you in your land, you shall not oppress the alien.” Instead of merely the external trappings of religion, the prophet Isaiah declares, “Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke?” (58:6). Indeed, the oppression of the foreigner and the poor are main parts of prophetic critiques in the Hebrew Bible: “The people of the land have practised extortion and committed robbery; they have oppressed the poor and needy, and have extorted from the alien without redress” (Ezek 22:29); “Then I will draw near to you for judgement; I will be swift to bear witness against the sorcerers, against the adulterers, against those who swear falsely, against those who oppress the hired workers in their wages, the widow, and the orphan, against those who thrust aside the alien, and do not fear me, says the Lord of hosts.” (Mal 3:5). Many people in the US wish to carry the mantle of this tradition; but to do so, you must understanding it requires you not only to not cage the children of foreigners, but also to provide them succor graciously. Otherwise, you are merely those who will claim they know God but will be told was never known by God (Matt 7:21–23).
I will keep writing to you on this issue until you publicly announce that you will fight to end these concentration camps, and you encourage all your colleagues in both parties to do the same. Shame on you for your inaction and complicity. Shame. Concentration camps are never the right thing.