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Visiting the Concentration Camps


Many of you no doubt heard much of this yesterday, but the story of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, and a few other members as well, visiting the concentration camps on the border is disturbing and telling about where the nation is right now. To be clear, as I’ve been saying since the 2016 election, ICE and CBP are fascist agencies in the service of ethnic cleansing. A lot of leftists make the claim that these issues were just as bad under Obama. But that claim is pretty disconnected from reality. This is not to take blame away from Obama, who made a horrible mistake by believing that if he toughened enforcement on the border that Republicans would make a deal for comprehensive immigration reform. This sort of thing was always Obama’s greatest weakness. He never understood, until maybe 2015 or so, just how much Republicans hated him. But if you need any evidence about the difference, just ask the agents themselves:

For the people who say ICE was the same under Obama: ICE strongly disagrees. pic.twitter.com/KRBuxcNKL3— McGruff is a cop (@agraybee) July 1, 2019

Then there was the Pro Publica report yesterday on the secret Facebook page of CBP agents that is pure fascism.

Members of a secret Facebook group for current and former Border Patrol agents joked about the deaths of migrants, discussed throwing burritos at Latino members of Congress visiting a detention facility in Texas on Monday and posted a vulgar illustration depicting Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez engaged in oral sex with a detained migrant, according to screenshots of their postings.

In one exchange, group members responded with indifference and wisecracks to the post of a news story about a 16-year-old Guatemalan migrant who died in May while in custody at a Border Patrol station in Weslaco, Texas. One member posted a GIF of Elmo with the quote, “Oh well.” Another responded with an image and the words “If he dies, he dies.”

Created in August 2016, the Facebook group is called “I’m 10-15” and boasts roughly 9,500 members from across the country. (10-15 is Border Patrol code for “aliens in custody.”) The group described itself, in an online introduction, as a forum for “funny” and “serious” discussion about work with the patrol. “Remember you are never alone in this family,” the introduction said.

And in early 2018, federal investigators found a raft of disturbing and racist text messages sent by Border Patrol agents in southern Arizona after searching the phone of Matthew Bowen, an agent charged with running down a Guatemalan migrant with a Ford F-150 pickup truck. The texts, which were revealed in a court filing in federal court in Tucson, described migrants as “guats,” “wild ass shitbags,” “beaners” and “subhuman.” The messages included repeated discussions about burning the migrants up.

Several of the postings reviewed by ProPublica refer to the planned visit by members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, including Ocasio-Cortez and Rep. Veronica Escobar, to a troubled Border Patrol facility outside of El Paso. Agents at the compound in Clint, Texas, have been accused of holding children in neglectful, inhumane conditions.

Members of the Border Patrol Facebook group were not enthused about the tour, noting that Ocasio-Cortez, a Democrat from Queens, had compared Border Patrol facilities to Nazi concentration camps. Escobar is a freshman Democrat representing El Paso.

One member encouraged Border Patrol agents to hurl a “burrito at these bitches.” Another, apparently a patrol supervisor, wrote, “Fuck the hoes.” “There should be no photo ops for these scum buckets,” posted a third member.

Perhaps the most disturbing posts target Ocasio-Cortez. One includes a photo illustration of her engaged in oral sex at an immigrant detention center. Text accompanying the image reads, “Lucky Illegal Immigrant Glory Hole Special Starring AOC.”

Another is a photo illustration of a smiling President Donald Trump forcing Ocasio-Cortez’s head toward his crotch. The agent who posted the image commented: “That’s right bitches. The masses have spoken and today democracy won.”

These people are scum. A comparison between ICE and CBP on one hand and the SS on the other is now entirely legitimate. These are fascists, working in a fascist agency, supporting a fascist president’s desire for a fascist program of ethnic cleansing. And as the Pro Publica piece notes, this was all in preparation for yesterday’s visit. Of course, the CBP tried to intimidate the members of Congress who was there, confiscated their phones, refused to cooperate, and basically acted like the fascists they are. I think we have to recognize the bravery of Ocasio-Cortez in the face of all of this. She faces a realistic chance of assassination and I think she knows this. But what are you going to do? Back down. In any case:

And to these CBP officers saying they felt “threatened” by me –

They were literally discussing making a GoFundMe for an officer who attacked my on my tour.

They confiscated my phone, and they were all armed. I’m 5’4”.

They’re just upset I exposed their inhumane behavior.— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) July 2, 2019

This was in fact the type of toilet we saw in the cell.

Except there was just one, and the sink portion was not functioning – @AyannaPressley smartly tried to open the faucet, and nothing came out.

So the women were told they could drink out of the bowl. https://t.co/rcu9Rt6B2x— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) July 1, 2019

CBP made us check our phones.

But one woman slipped me this packet to take with me.

It says “shampoo,” but she told me that this is all they give women to wash their entire body. Nothing else.

Some women’s hair was falling out. Others had gone 15 days without taking a shower. pic.twitter.com/OsaKS0YD9a— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) July 1, 2019

What’s haunting is that the women I met with today told me in no uncertain terms that they would experience retribution for telling us what they shared.

They all began sobbing – out of fear of being punished, out of sickness, out of desperation, lack of sleep, trauma, despair.— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) July 1, 2019

After I forced myself into a cell w/ women&began speaking to them, one of them described their treatment at the hands of officers as “psychological warfare” – waking them at odd hours for no reason, calling them wh*res, etc.

Tell me what about that is due to a “lack of funding?”— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) July 1, 2019

Just left the 1st CBP facility.

I see why CBP officers were being so physically &sexually threatening towards me.

Officers were keeping women in cells w/ no water & had told them to drink out of the toilets.

This was them on their GOOD behavior in front of members of Congress.— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) July 1, 2019

Also, despite cameras being outlawed, Joaquin Castro managed to smuggle one in and take a little video:

This moment captures what it’s like for women in CBP custody to share a cramped cell—some held for 50 days—for them to be denied showers for up to 15 days and life-saving medication. For some, it also means being separated from their children. This is El Paso Border Station #1. pic.twitter.com/OmCAlGxDt8— Joaquin Castro (@JoaquinCastrotx) July 1, 2019

What is there to say? Again, this is fascism. The nation has concentration camps. The treatment of the people in these camps, in terms of personal physical brutality, is clearly even worse than Japanese-Americans faced in the nation’s last exercise in concentration camps during World War II. It’s comparable to the experiences of black prisoners over the years (including today) and Native Americans during the genocidal campaigns of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, very much including Carlisle Indian School. This is a national shame and should outrage us all. Yet it will not outrage us enough to do much about it.

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