Over the past few weeks we’ve seen a lot of stories hitting the mainstream news cycle shedding light on some of the abhorrent aspects of the US migrant detention centers and the current wave of human rights atrocities happening at the hands of Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). From the revelation about ICE officials now no longer officially keeping track of how many detainees die in US custody, to the fact migrants will now be housed in concentration camps formally used to intern Japanese-Americans during World War II – and Indigenous peoples back in the 18th century.
The images and details of men, women, and children becoming ill – some dying in custody, mothers begging for water and medicine, all topped with the video of Justice Department lawyer Sarah Fabian arguing against giving blankets, toothbrushes or soap to imprisoned children is – to put it mildly – devastating. But while we could do as so many others do and spend all of 10 seconds on the topic before we keep scrolling, we’re going to do a bit more. Hopefully this small example can help others see one way they can take the next step and take part in actively combating fascist horrors.
Before we get into the meat of article, let’s briefly address the recent commentary on the (correct) use of the term concentration camp in describing migrant detention centers. Even though some news outlets have correctly used the label, the cacophonous hand-wringing responses can’t bring themselves to acknowledge reality. To that, we’d like to share an aptly put take on this topic from Black Rose Anarchist Federation, recently posted on IGD. We’d like to recommend the entirety of that article linked here:
“The actual term “concentration camp” comes directly out of European colonialism in the Americas with the term first used by the Spanish colonizers of Cuba in 1897. Overseeing Spanish colonialism in Cuba and the Philippines was General Valeriano Weyler who first applied the term (reconcentrados) to his tactic of containing anti-Spanish insurgents in Cuba. While he gave the practice a name, he was not the first to use the tactic. He learned the tactic from studying US genocider General William Tecumseh Sherman’s campaigns against the Indigenous peoples of the Great Plains. The term itself is, therefore, directly connected to the United States’ own history of ethnic cleansing and “frontier” control.”