The wave of government officials visiting detention centers took off after Rep. Alexandria Ocasio–Cortez (D-NY) visited one of the facilities in Texas on July 1. Her visit and tweets kick-started major news channels mass reporting on the centers. This was because her statements regarding the institutions were extremely alarming and somewhat horrifying.
The congresswomen actively tweeted about her experience saying, “CBP officers were being physically and sexually threatening towards [her]” and that she witnessed, “women being forced to drink out of toilets.” This prompted many other Democratic candidates to visit the Texas centers, most coming back with similar feelings. Some even went so far as fatuously labeling them “concentration camps.” Therefore, it is vital to understand the context of these visits and the message behind these overdramatized statements.
Many of the elected officials who are visiting these facilities are explicitly going to those located in Texas. This is because the facilities in Texas are much different than those in San Diego and other centers lining the U.S.-Mexico border. Texas facilities are under more pressure than any other centers in the country because they receive the highest number of illegal immigrants. Also, overcrowding has caused some supply shortages, but Democrats are painting a completely different picture.
When Democrats like Scott Peters (D-CA), who visited a Texas center in July, say that “Many of the men had not showered in 10 to 20 days” they leave out the fact that the center did not have showers for those 20 days. Not only are they visiting centers that require serious reconstruction, but Democrats are also wrongly suggesting that the living conditions are the same in all facilities.
However, every facility is not the same. In reality, the majority of centers are equipped with air conditioning, clean living conditions, and plenty of hygienic products. Nonetheless, there is no question that some of the centers, especially those in Texas, need to be prioritized with extensive funding.
Vice President Mike Pence released a statement following his visitation of the facilities, accepting that ‘it was evident some center [are simply] overwhelmed.” Pence went on to say that, “That’s the reason why we demanded Congress provide $4.6 billion support to Customs and Border Protection.”
Instead of spending an extensive amount of money and time criticizing these institutions, Congress should be finding ways to make these facilities more safe and practical by addressing their concerns. Labeling these facilities as concentration camps not only minimizes the Holocaust, but it falsely labels these detention centers. The illegal immigrants held in detention centers knew the consequences of crossing the border illegally, which makes the circumstances of these facilities utterly different than the Holocaust, which forced millions from their homes and subjugated them to horrific suffering. By contrast, the immigrants being held at these processing facilities are free to leave and return home at any time.
It’s time to stop the irresponsible rhetoric about the way that those detained are being treated in detention centers. Illegal immigrants who are crossing the border understand the risks that come with breaking the law, and the Holocaust isn’t a remotely similar to the detention facilities. Yes, the facilities are far from perfect, but concerned representatives are the ones who need to take action.
Photo by Albuquerque Film Office