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Should We Call Detention Centers Concentration Camps? by Julie Orringer

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'Historical parallels should be drawn carefully; what’s happening in Clint, Tex., is not equivalent to what took place in Sobibor, Treblinka or Auschwitz.  More apt, are the internment camps in Vichy France that housed refugees from occupied Europe in the 1940s, but that's no  compliment:  Refugees lived in unheated barracks and used open latrines, the contents of which blew about in rough weather. Typhus and dysentery were rampant. To the extent that refugees were fed, they got watery soups, served with a weak coffee substitute and hard brown bread. In warmer weather, bugs and vermin swarmed. The scale of those camps dwarfed our own detention centers. And many thousands of inmates were deported to Germany for extermination. But there were some striking similarities between the French camps and our own. Read  more...'

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I began teaching in 1963,; Ba and BS in Education -Brooklyn College. I have the equivalent of 2 additional Master's, mainly in Literacy Studies and Graphic Design. I was the only seventh grade teacher of English from 1990 -1999 at East Side (more...)
 

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As my comment, I chose this passage from the piece:

"Once refugees have crossed our borders, we have a responsibility to treat them with compassion. If we fail to do that, we shouldn't be surprised to hear ourselves compared to those who have oppressed other human beings during the worst periods of our history."

"One of the most striking differences is that in the camps of France, humanitarian workers and journalists were allowed to visit and document the inmates' plight, while our government has severely limited journalists' access to detainment centers, citing legal issues around privacy concerns. On Wednesday, a group of journalists were allowed to make a brief visit to Clint, but they were prohibited from taking photos or from speaking to the detainees.

We know what we do about Clint thanks largely to Elora Mukherjee, the director of the Immigrants' Rights Clinic at Columbia Law School. She and a few other lawyers have been allowed to visit certain detainment centers, thanks to a 1997 settlement with the Border Patrol. Shortly after Ms. Mukherjee's account, the Trump administration moved hundreds of children out of Clint and into larger detainment centers in nearby El Paso. But more than 100 were later returned, and are there still."

"Ms. Mukherjee said, "If journalists had access to the detention centers at the border where children are being held in filthy conditions, those centers would not exist."

"One of Fry's associates wrote something similar from Gurs in 1940: "These wretched and inhumane conditions speak for themselves." But inhumane conditions don't speak for themselves, not without witnesses. Allowing in more outside observers would be one way our government could at least approach the moral level of Vichy France."

Submitted on Monday, Jul 1, 2019 at 3:53:27 PM

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