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Refugees Under A Bridge--Our Latest National Shame

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Every month we are discovering more horrors to which we are subjecting people at our Southern border whose only crime is trying to gain asylum from violence responsible for tearing their countries and lives apart.

In June, the Trump administration tested the limits of its anti-immigrant stance by admitting (after denying) and reaffirming its practice of divorcing refugee children from their parents crossing into the United States.

Then we learned of another atrocity.

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According to legal affidavits filed April 23, 2018 in U.S. District Court in California, refugee children in U.S. custody were being injected with psychotropic drugs that inflict dizziness, lethargy, and sometimes incapacitation.

In September, the Trump administration transferred $9.8 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) disaster relief budget to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for more migrant detention camps.

Then came news in November that Customs and Border Protection (CBP) unleashed a tear gas attack on unarmed men, women, and children asylum seekers.

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In December, two migrant children died in CBP custody.

In January, an Office of Inspector General (OIG) report revealed not only did the U.S. government separate thousands more children from their parents than previously thought; it was separating them before authorities admitted a child separation policy was in place, which Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen initially denied existed.

February, we learned ICE is nasally force-feeding at least half a dozen detainees engaged in hunger strikes to protest conditions at the Texas facility to which they have been imprisoned.

February also saw a Salvadoran transgender woman's death after she was denied asylum and deported.

Then in March, NBC KNSD-TV obtained documents confirming CBP officers have a list of 59 individuals, mostly American journalists, lawyers, and activists, intended to be stopped and questioned at San Diego-area checkpoints for meeting with or aiding asylum seekers from the Honduran caravan on the Mexican side of the border.

That we know of to date, four asylum seekers have died in CBP custody.

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This week, we learn U.S. immigration officials are penning in hundreds behind chain-link razor wire fencing and forcing them to sleep on the ground in a temporary outdoor detention camp beneath the Paso Del Norte International Bridge linking Ciudad Juarez and El Paso, Texas.

Honduran woman N. Rosales (not her real name), who crossed into the U.S. with her son and spent about three days under the bridge until relocated to a Border Patrol processing facility holding cell, reported to BuzzFeed News:

"I see it as a punishment for entering the country illegally. Time moved so slow, it seemed like an eternity."

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Ted Millar is poet and teacher. His poetry has been in featured in myriad literary journals, including Caesura, Circle Show, Cactus Heart, Third Wednesday, and The Voices Project. He is also a contributor to Liberal America and Liberal Nation (more...)
 

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