The American Gulag of Donald Trump

America was once a welcome refuge from the terror of wars, famine and poverty but no more. The changes started subtly under Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton. Under George W. Bush, the US was less welcoming to Muslims after 9/11 but less blatant under Barack Obama. With the election of Donald Trump, the nation is now openly xenophobic, misogynist and inhumane. The prime example is how we a treating the refugees approaching the Southern borders who are fleeing violence from political unrest and drug and gang in Latin American countries. The two of the cruelest policies are the removal of gang and domestic violence as a qualification for asylum and the separation of children from their families.

During the Obama administration the was an influx of unaccompanied children from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, fleeing violence and turmoil in their home countries. Most of those children found homes with close relatives such as parents, siblings or aunts and uncles that live in the USA. Others were placed with sponsors who were not related. Under Trump there is now a “zero tolerance policy” for families crossing the border

“If you cross this border unlawfully, then we will prosecute you. It’s that simple,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said. “If you smuggle illegal aliens across our border, then we will prosecute you. If you are smuggling a child, then we will prosecute you, and that child will be separated from you as required by law. If you don’t like that, then don’t smuggle children over our border.”

The Trump administration is now treating all immigrants at the Southern border as criminals, even though they are not illegally entering the US. Even if they were being undocumented is a misdemeanor, not a felony. The result is more children, some as young as infants and toddlers, are being ripped from their families and put in detention centers. The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein strongly criticized this inhumane policy in his report.

Recently Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) attempted to inspect one such center in Brownsville, Texas that houses nearly 1500 children. He was denied access and the police were called. Sen. Merkley was later given access to another facility where children were housed in cages, sleeping on concrete floors with only this mylar “space” blankets.

On Wednesday, a group of reporters were given access to the Brownsville facility which houses about 1500 boys between the ages of 10 and 17. One of those reporters was MSNBC’s Jacob Soborof. here is his report

Life inside the biggest licensed child care facility in the nation for children brought into the U.S. illegally looks more like incarceration than temporary shelter.

The children, a mix of those who crossed into the U.S. unaccompanied and those who were separated from their parents under Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ new zero-tolerance policy, spend 22 hours per day during the week (21 hours on weekends) locked inside a converted former Walmart, packing five into rooms built for four.

It currently houses nearly 1,500 boys ranging from 10 to 17 years old.

NBC News was among the first news organizations granted access to the overcrowded Casa Padre facility.

The average stay at the center in Brownsville, Texas, is 52 days. Minors are subsequently placed with a sponsor.

Shelter leaders said they were not notified in advance of the Department of Justice’s recently stated goal to prosecute 100 percent of immigrants crossing into the U.S. illegally. Children are automatically separated from parents referred for criminal prosecution.

The policy has led to a surge in children filling the center above its legal capacity, and has sent officials in Washington scrambling to open temporary tent cities around the country.

Dr. Juan Sanchez, the president of the nonprofit that operates the facility, South West Key, warned that the temporary locations might not have to be licensed or staffed by trained child welfare professionals if they are established on federal land, which the Trump administration has been considering. [..]

A shelter employee asked a small group of reporters allowed inside the facility to smile at the hundreds of detained migrant kids in line for a meal because “they feel like animals in a cage being looked at.”

There were no cages or fences — only dorm-style rooms that are supposed to sleep four. Because of the overcrowding, the shelter received a variance from the state of Texas to add an additional bed to each room.

Journalists were asked not to speak with the boys in the shelter, but many indicated that they were in good spirits, despite the circumstances.

Shelter officials said the boys are permitted to speak to people by phone outside the shelter, including incarcerated parents, if the penal institution housing the parents allows calls.

Casa Padre is the same facility Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., was turned away from this month after arriving unannounced and seeking entry to inspect conditions. In the reception area, a note to staff reads if media approaches “Immediately notify PD,” or the police department.

The shelter has operated in the converted Walmart since March 2017 and, until recently, has mostly served young migrants who arrive in the United States without an adult.

A DHS official put the number of prosecutions for entering the United States — an offense that requires parents and children to be separated — at 60 percent, nearly doubling what it was earlier this year.

The walls of Casa Padre are covered with American history-themed art and murals of various presidents appear throughout. A painting of President Donald Trump sits on the wall of a cafeteria area. The quote next to it reads: “Sometimes losing a battle you find a new way to win the war.”

Soborof also reported that there are no MS-13 members inside the facility.

As the number of separations increase the administration is running out of room to house these unfortunate children. They are now constructing tent cities to house the children.

These policies have dehumanized Latinos. This is not the law. This humanitarian crisis was created and exacerbated by the Trump administration and no one else. It is inhumane to separate children from their parents and causes irreparable psychological damage to the children.