Immigrant Detention CampsImmigrant detention camps are run by governments all over the world to hold immigrants, refugees and any asylum seekers. Many of these immigrants are fleeing to other countries to escape from violent and inhumane conditions in their home countries. Most governments have their own regulations on how to treat immigrants and what they have access to. More recently, the conditions in which immigrants are treated in detention camps in the United States raises questions about whether or not the U.S. detention camps should be considered concentration camps. Here are five facts about the conditions of immigrant detention camps.

5 Facts About the Conditions of Immigrant Detention Camps

  1. Overcrowding is a major problem with detention camps and is one of the main reasons illnesses are easily spread. Detention camps recently have been seen to hold over 40 detainees in cells built for eight people. Others report that detainees are standing on top of toilets to make room for people shoved into one cell. Overcrowding in detention camps is a health risk not just because of the ease of illness spreading, but also because of the lack of space for detainees to sit or rest apart from one another in the cells.
  2. There are multiple detention camps throughout the U.S. that do not have access to medical care for detainees. Without access to medical care, many immigrants, especially children, fall ill. With overcrowding, these illnesses are spreading and are hard to contain. Many times workers do not take sick detainees to hospitals for medical care. This increases the likeliness of illnesses spreading and increases the risk of death. According to a recent report, approximately seven children have died in the last year in detention camps.
  3. Many detention camps lack access to clean water or any water at all. Reports say that accessible water for detainees has foul odors and is discolored. Additionally, trying to get water to drink or shower is nearly impossible as a result of overcrowding. Other reports say children claim they do not have water to brush their teeth or shower in their cells. One reporter even stated that as soon as he walked into one detention camp, the smell as a result of those who could not shower was immediately apparent.
  4. Because of the lack of access to clean water, access to other basic sanitation in detention camps is limited. Some women report not having access to menstrual sanitation products. Plus, some mothers report not having access to a place where they can clean baby bottles. Because some detainees are standing on toilets due to overcrowding, access to bathrooms is limited, causing sanitary conditions in the cells to grow even worse.
  5. Many children in immigrant detention camps are separated from their families. Some children are in foster families. Others are held in detention camps until they are placed with adult relatives who are not in detention camps or until they turn 18. The separation of families is scarring, especially for young children who may not understand why they are being separated.

The Dignity for Detained Immigrants Act of 2019 is sponsored by New Jersey Sen. Cory A. Booker and is currently in rotation with the Senate. This act sets stricter standards for immigrant detention camps. These standards include periodic inspections, notifications and investigations of deaths in custody, annual reports to Congress, an online detainee location system, a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) locator and an online public facilities matrix. The online public facilities matrix goes on to include the name and address of the detention center, whether the facility houses adults, children or both, the average number of detainees and whether or not the facility is in compliance with the regulated standards set by Congress.

These five facts about the conditions of immigrant detention camps are the main talking points circulating around the political scene. Other horrendous conditions of detention camps include cold temperatures, lights being on at all times, lack of proper food rations or having expired foods and mental trauma caused by the terrible conditions. The conditions in which immigrants are living in detention camps need to be bettered with stricter regulations that must be enforced by the government. Recent public knowledge of the conditions of immigrant detention camps will help to force the government to provide aid for current detainees.

Chelsea Wolfe
Photo: Flickr

Trump's Policy on Domestic Poverty
With so little time left until the U.S. presidential election, the tension between candidates, ideologies and policies has nearly peaked. Donald Trump’s policies hold the promise of “making America great again” by reinvigorating the economy through protectionist trade policies, ridding the country of those who take advantage of the system as well as tax cuts to the rich and corporations. Further study shows that a different outcome would result from Trump’s policy on domestic poverty.

According to many economic experts, Trump’s policy on domestic poverty would lead the nation into recession, most harshly affecting the poorest households. Trump’s policies would “significantly” weaken the country and drive the U.S. into a “lengthy recession,” according to a Moody’s Analytics report. An estimated 3.5 million jobs could be lost and the unemployment rate could increase from 5% to 7%. The average household would face a regressive consumption tax of $11,100 over five years.

Citing trade deficits with Mexico, China and Japan, Trump has continuously claimed that the U.S. has lost its dominance through weak trade agreements and outsourcing manufacturing jobs. To change this and promote domestic production, Trump plans to impose a 35% tariff on goods from Mexico and a 45% tariff on goods from China and Japan. While producers and the government would gain $43 billion and $65 billion, the total loss to the U.S. economy would be $170 billion, according to the National Foundation for American Policy. The average household would lose 4% of its income and for households making “the lowest 10[%] of income up to 18% of their (mean) after-tax income” would be lost.

According to the study, tariffs on imports from the three countries would not even protect U.S. workers from foreign competition, meaning the, “only logical alternative would be to impose a similar set of tariffs on all other countries that export to the United States.” This approach could cost households with the lowest 10% of income to lose a massive 53% of their income.

Trump also promised to deport the more than 11 million illegal immigrants in the U.S. Although he recently softened his immigration stance, many still idealize a future without illegal immigrants. The massive deportation, however, would shrink the economy by about 2%, from a $400-$600 billion GDP collapse, decrease the workforce by about seven million and cost millions of dollars to implement, not to mention the construction of a nearly 2,000-mile-long border wall. The economic slump would inevitably magnify the struggles of the poor as it caused consumer product prices to increase.

Last but not least, and perhaps most unclear to the public, are Trump’s tax plans. Although dubbed the “blue-collar billionaire,” Trump’s economic plan will give reduced tax rates to the wealthiest individuals, from 39.6% to 33% and corporations, from the proposed 25% to 15%. The new tax policy would increase government deficit by an estimated $10 trillion over the next decade, according to the Tax Policy Center, slashing the funds for social security, medicare, Medicaid and interest payments that already make up more than two-thirds of the annual budget. Yet Trump has offered few expenditure reduction proposals that would make up for the revenue loss, meaning that the millions of Americans who rely on these government benefits would likely suffer. Otherwise, spending on all other programs would need to be cut by 53% to meet the revenue loss, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

In response to his tax plan critics, Trump has cited his belief in trickle-down economics, a theory that states that if the rich receive tax cuts, the money they save will be invested and eventually trickle down to the poor, invigorating the entire economy. The theory, however, has been repeatedly disproven. In 2012, the Tax Justice Network conducted a study that suggested between $21 and $32 trillion has been siphoned from the world economy by the rich and put into private, off-shore accounts. In 2015, the International Monetary Fund also filed a report showing that the trickle-down effect does not exist, as the rich continue to get richer.

As Election Day nears, it is important to consider the impact of both candidates’ policies on the economy and the poor in particular.

Henry Gao

Photo: Flickr

President Obama has called it an “urgent humanitarian situation.” The Department of Homeland Security has estimated that 52,000 youth have arrived across the border from Central and South America since October 2013. There are some as young as five, and 74 percent of all illegal youth have been coming from Central America’s Northern Triangle: Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.

Violence, gangs, and economic hardships run rampant throughout this area. According to a report from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, 58 percent of the 400 youth the agency interviewed “had suffered, been threatened or feared serious harm.”

Honduras has the highest homicide rate in the world ,with 90.4 people in every 100,000 being murdered. El Salvador has the next highest and Guatemala is fifth. These three countries are also among the poorest in the Western Hemisphere, with 30 percent of Hondurans living on less than two dollars a day.

Officials have told advocates that they expect the number of unaccompanied minors crossing the border to reach 74,000 by the end of 2014. “Undocumented migrant youth is not a new challenge,” says Lori Kaplan, President and CEO of the Latin American Youth Center. “What is different about today’s crisis is the magnitude and the visibility.”

The images have been so startling that the President has asked Congress for an additional $1.4 billion to deal with the youth influx by creating a multiagency taskforce, led by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

This will go to fund many of the shelters that will be used to house these youth until their parents or guardians can be located. Most stay in these homes awaiting their trials and then ultimately to be deported. If no relatives can be found then they will be turned over to the foster care system.

These are all short term measures for a problem that will only escalate. Vice President Joseph Biden Jr. met with the leaders of the Northern Triangle and Mexico in the hopes that he can quell the recent rumors that the U.S. was relaxing its borders and allowing women with children across.

In a speech he gave to these leaders, he said, “The United States recognizes that a key part of the solution to this problem is to address the root causes of this immigration in the first place. Especially poverty, insecurity and the lack of the rule of law, so the people can stay and thrive in their own communities.”

He went on further to say that American would be donating $255 million dollars to Central America to assist repatriation programs for deportees, improve prosecution of criminal street gang members, and expand youth programs to reduce gang recruitment.

Frederick Wood II

Sources: InterAction, PADF, Mother Jones, New York Times
Photo: Flickr

illegal immigration
The United States government announced that it is increasing its foreign aid budget to deal with the recent surge of illegal immigration, especially of minors. Since October 2013 the U.S. border patrol has reported 52,000 children illegally crossing the Mexican-United States border. The majority of these children come all the way from Central America in an attempt to escape not only poverty, but also violence.

There is often a direct correlation between poverty and violence, as more and more people will turn toward theft and gangs as their  economic situations become desperate. The U.S. government’s USAID program will feed a total of $93 million dollars into Central America to improve citizen security in the countries that result in the highest number of immigrants, these being Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. The money will target crime prevention, youth involvement in gangs and support for local law enforcement. Some of the money will also go toward repatriating Central Americans who are returned to their home countries.

The goal of this increase in foreign aid is to create environments that Central Americans will want to live in instead of run away from. Building secure and prosperous societies that Central Americans can be proud of will result in a lower percentage of the Central American population making the treacherous journey northward.

The increasing number of immigrants is concerning because making it to America is no easy feat. The road is long, hard and dangerous, and many of the children crossing the border are not accompanied by adults. For people to decide that this harrowing experience is worth the risk, conditions in their home countries must be extreme.

However, the especially high number of immigrants is also the result of the “coyotes” who smuggle people into America for a price that is often higher than the immigrants can afford. Many of the recent illegals tell similar stories of coyotes who made promises of U.S. residency due to a new immigration reform. Spokespeople from the White House have stated that this reform does not exist. Coyotes are well known for lying, scamming and taking advantage of desperate travelers. The president of Mexico, Enrique Peña Nieto, has expressed enthusiasm in working with the U.S. government to support legal immigration that is safe and orderly, and not the experience that is given by the coyotes.

Opponents of the government’s foreign aid policy in Central America include the police of southern Texas that deal with illegals on a daily basis. They claim they cannot afford the time it will take to see if this new structure works. They fear they are running out of energy and options when it comes to illegal immigrants and the government should take more immediate action.

While President Obama dismissed House Speaker John Boehner’s call to send the National Guard to the border, the Obama Administration is brining in more lawyers and judges to the immigration courts to speed up processes there, as well as an expansion of detention facilities to house the increasing number of immigrants while they await trial.

-Taylor Lovett

Sources: CBS, WBUR
Photo: Flickr

Dominican_Law_Strips_Citizenship_and_ Human Rights
Thousands of residents in the Dominican Republic are now nationless, thanks to a new law passed by the country’s Constitutional Court, stripping Dominican-born children of Haitian migrants of their Dominican citizenship. This new Dominican law has experts warning that a human rights crisis may ensue. The United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council has also gotten involved.

“We are extremely concerned that a ruling of the Dominican Republic Constitutional Court may deprive tens of thousands of people of nationality, virtually all of them of Haitian descent, and have a very negative impact on their rights,” spokesperson for the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ravina Shamdasani, was quoted telling reporters in Geneva.

More specifically, the law forbids Dominican nationality to children of illegal immigrants who have been in the country since 1929, because their parents are labeled as being “in transit.” According to a UN study, there are approximately 210,000 Dominican-born individuals of Haitian descent currently living in the Dominican Republic. This will cause people of Haitian descent in the Dominican Republic to be denied access to government services and place them in a position of constitutional limbo. The Dominican law presents a possibility for further discrimination and statelessness, since the majority of them do not hold Haitian citizenship.

Until 2010, the Dominican Republic automatically granted citizenship to all individuals born in the country. However, a constitutional change in 2010 claimed that citizenship would only be bestowed upon individuals born in the country to at least one parent of Dominican blood or foreign parents who are legal citizens.

The tension between the two nations, who share the island of Hispaniola, has been going on for centuries. Wars and massacres have occurred between the two, and despite the Dominican Republic’s aid donations to its neighbor after the 2010 earthquake which cooled some of the tension, the Caribbean nations’ conflicts have started again with this law, which is final and cannot be appealed.

Advocacy groups have been protesting, highlighting the fact that the law only propagates the sense of racism practiced towards black Haitians who have settled in the Dominican Republic. Experts have also been saying that the legal change is part of an effort to limit the number of Haitian immigrants into the Dominican Republic and instead promote self-deportation for Haitians already living there. In fact, Dominican politicians have feared the “Haitianization” of the country for well over a century, as more and more Haitians migrated to the Dominican Republic to escape the devastation in Haiti.

The Dominican electoral commission has been given one year to produce a list of people to be excluded from citizenship or stripped of it if they already hold it. The government also promised to present a path to obtaining Dominican citizenship for migrants, but gave no further details on how it would work or who would be eligible.

– Elisha-Kim Desmangles
Feature Writer

Sources: Washington Post, NBC Latino, UN News Centre
Photo: NBC Latino