The Trump administration’s network of immigrant detention facilities are thriving under a misnomer that begs correction, journalist Jonathan M. Katz wrote in the Los Angeles Times this week: They are nothing short of concentration camps.
While acknowledging that some might “balk” at his use of the term, Katz made the case that a system whereby “people are being tortured and left to die” can be known by no other name.
He pointed to recent reports of immigrants packed “so tightly into cells that they had to stand on toilets to breathe”; of Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s failure to provide adequate medical care, resulting in preventable deaths; and of detainees held in solitary confinement simply for being transgender or mentally ill.
At least seven children have died in federal custody in the last year, Katz noted.
And still, the U.S. media is not calling the system what it is, he argued — a network of concentration camps.
Not all such camps are created equal, and certainly not all are the extermination camps of Nazi Germany, as many Americans readily imagine when hearing the term. Katz quoted German-Jewish political theorist Hannah Arendt on the subject: less extreme camps in Germany were about getting “undesirable elements … out of the way.” Nevertheless, the goal was the same: “The human masses sealed off in them are treated as if they no longer existed, as if what happened to them were no longer of interest to anybody, as if they were already dead.”
President Donald Trump’s treatment of immigrants of color will not be fully realized until the media and Americans make a point to look at what is happening and call it what it is, Katz argued. Trump’s approach to the issue is driven not by a desire to rein in America’s immigration system but by a desire to keep the nation as white as possible.
“Trump has made it clear that he wants to stifle all non-white immigration, period,” Katz wrote. “His mass arrests, iceboxes and dog cages are part of an explicitly nationalist project to put the country under the control of the right kind of white people.”