The Crisis at the Border

Written By: Javier Boersma

Have you ever wondered, what you would have done if you were a citizen during fascist rule in Europe? Would you have fought? Would you have tried to protest? Or would you have ignored the decline in human rights and the rise of authoritarianism as many did? 

For example, the United States placed its own Japanese-American citizens and immigrants into detention camps, right here in Colorado. History does not treat those benevolently, those bystanders who stood by and watched as their friends, neighbors, and co-workers were rounded up with no more than the clothes they were and imprisoned, for no reason other than their ethnicity. Were they afraid to put themselves in danger, possibly risking imprisonment themselves? Did they fear ostracism? What prevented them from protesting?

In the United States today, many analysts draw worrying parallels to history, in the steps leading to authoritarian rule.

Although it seems as if we aren’t quite at that point today in the US there are many worrying signs. Atrocities such as the Native American genocide and persecution or the holocaust didn’t happen overnight, the government didn’t suddenly become a evil and bloodthirsty institution. Remember, according to the German government during WWII what they did to persecute groups, such as Jews, gay people, Catholics, and Romani was deemed “undesirable” was completely legal.

How does this relate to what the US is currently doing? If you are not yet aware, the Government has set up detainment centers for illegal immigrants. Those that say that because the detainees have technically committed a criminal act by illegally crossing the border, and thus are not equivalent to other persecuted groups throughout history, have not been paying attention. Firstly the charge undocumented immigrants are charged with is a low misdemeanor, Immigrants detained in these camps have not been offered the same rights/options as American citizens awaiting trails for similar petty offenses. 

Although not citizens, illegal immigrants are protected by both international and domestic law (including the constitution) and thus, theoretically, should be granted the same basic rights as any other human, citizen or not. However, both because of the lack of preparation and mass arrests ICE has been making in major cities, many detention centers have reached capacity and authorities have even started using correctional facilities used by real criminals. 

These facilities are run by the federal and state governments and even private corporations the government pays. Because of language barriers, the fact that detainees often do not understand their rights, and the massive populations, many of these detainees have not had access to legal counsel or representation and other rights granted to all those under custody of the government . 

Disease has also been an issue with the detention centers, as even as recently as 6 days ago 900 cases of mumps have reportedly broken out at multiple detention facilities. Many have seen the pictures of the cramped detainee cages with little comfort and privacy, these close conditions can be conducive to the spread of disease.   

Although we are not at the same point as many facist regimes of the 20th century, to many, detainment camps harken back to some of the darkest moments in American history, such as the Japanese internment camps during WWII or the Trail of Tears. We must learn from the past and avoid repeating these grave stains in history once again.