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Boardman writes: "The US government's treatment of immigrant children not only shocks the conscience, it is also in chronic, blatant violation of US law."

ICE officer. (photo: Getty)
ICE officer. (photo: Getty)

Trump's Immigration Police State Persistently Violates the Law

By William Boardman, Reader Supported News

26 June 19


he US government’s treatment of immigrant children not only shocks the conscience, it is also in chronic, blatant violation of US law. The US government’s deliberate, unlawful cruelty to its child hostages was vividly illustrated by government attorney Sarah Fabian, a self-described mother, as she tried to explain to the disbelieving three judges of the US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals how the US government could say it held children in “safe and sanitary” conditions as required by law. Fabian’s stunning performance went viral, showing her defending conditions in which the government deprives its child-prisoners of soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes, or beds. A federal district court had already ruled that these conditions were not “safe and sanitary.” Fabian’s coldly deceptive responses to the judges’ incredulous questions is a stunning illustration of an attorney zealously representing her client, the US, with little regard for truth, humanity, decency, fundamental honesty, or the plain language of the governing law. Given the manifest bad faith of the US government in immigration matters over decades, one wonders: at what point does “just following orders” become a form of co-conspiracy in violating human rights?

The governing law for this case is the 1997 Flores Settlement of a 1985 class action lawsuit against the US for its treatment of immigrant minors held in detention. Subsequent Congressional action has codified parts of the settlement, but Congress has done nothing to disturb the settlement, as courts have previously ruled. The settlement itself is 28 pages long (including 14 pages of exhibits). It sets out nationwide policy that covers “the detention, release, and treatment” of all immigrant minors detained by US immigration authorities. The intent of the settlement is to assure that US immigration authorities treat, “and shall continue to treat, all minors in its custody with dignity, respect and special concern for their particular vulnerability as minors.” This is the current law of the land and will remain the law of the land until Congress enacts any change that is signed by the president.

For the Ninth Circuit Appeals Court, the critical question of “safe and sanitary” conditions is addressed in Section V of the settlement, “PROCEDURES AND TEMPORARY PLACEMENT FOLLOWING ARREST.” It is hard to find any legal or moral ambiguity in this section, which establishes a clear expectation that US Immigration authorities will treat the children in their custody with care and respect:

Whenever the [US] takes a minor into custody, it shall expeditiously process the minor and shall provide the minor with a notice of rights, including the right to a bond redetermination hearing if applicable. Following arrest, the INS shall hold minors in facilities that are safe and sanitary and that are consistent with the [US’s] concern for the particular vulnerability of minors.

Facilities will provide access to toilets and sinks, drinking water and food as appropriate, medical assistance if the minor is in need of emergency services, adequate temperature control and ventilation, adequate supervision to protect minors from others, and contact with family members who were arrested with the minor.

The [US] will segregate unaccompanied minors from unrelated adults. Where such segregation is not immediately possible, an unaccompanied minor will not be detained with an unrelated adult for more than 24 hours.

If there is no one to whom the [US] may release the minor pursuant to Paragraph 14, and no appropriate licensed program is immediately available for placement pursuant to Paragraph 19, the minor may be placed in a [US] detention facility, or other [US]-contracted facility, having separate accommodations for minors, or a State or county juvenile detention facility. However, minors shall be separated from delinquent offenders.

Every effort must be taken to ensure that the safety and well-being of the minors detained in these facilities are satisfactorily provided for by the staff.
[emphasis added]

Every minute you spend reading this, like every minute before and after, is another minute of trauma inflicted on children and infants by the US government, trauma deliberately and callously inflicted on children held in concentration camps for children, concentration camps run by US agencies with the moral standards of a Gestapo. These are all the unforced choices of the American government, choices that have been getting worse and worse for decades, choices that are now tantamount to crimes against humanity committed by an American government rendered monstrous by the overwhelming psychic numbness of its leaders and too much of its population.

Concentration camps? Of course they are, they’re part of an American gulag across the South and West designed to punish and intimidate immigrants regardless of their age or health. These concentration camps are not yet death camps, but they are killing people – deliberately or carelessly hardly matters. These concentration camps are torturing people by design with harsh conditions and harsh treatment and callous neglect. They inflict sleep deprivation on children, which is a form of torture.

The atrocity of American treatment of immigrants has been documented for years. Immigrants flee their countries that have become unlivable, in great part thanks to American support for brutal dictatorships. So they seek asylum here. The US, having punished them in their home countries, turns around and punishes them for coming here. The inspector general at Homeland Security documents the agency’s criminal treatment of children and adults in report after report. This is an old story getting worse, and media report it in brutal detail. Attorney Holly Cooper, who represents immigrant children and co-directs the Immigration Law Clinic at the University of California, Davis, told AP:

In my 22 years of doing visits with children in detention, I have never heard of this level of inhumanity.

Another attorney, Warren Binford, was part of a monitoring team sent by the plaintiffs in the case before the Ninth Circuit Appeals Court. On Democracy NOW, she gave harrowing, eyewitness detail of her observations of the disgraceful treatment of children by US authorities at the Clint, Texas, Border Patrol station. That’s the one that got so much bad publicity of late that the US has moved its child prisoners elsewhere.

In addition to the pornography of child brutalization, which is good at upsetting people but not so much at motivating them, attorney Binford noted that roughly half the children in custody have parents in the US. Statistically, of all the children in US custody, only about 12 per cent have no parent or other relative to go to (as defined in the 1997 Flores Settlement). Despite cries of helplessness by the Trump administration, Binford said, “We are nowhere near the highest level of apprehensions that have been taken by the Border Patrol over the last several decades…. And when they say that, it’s simply not true.” She noted that taxpayers are paying $775 per day per child to keep them in squalid conditions, when most of them have family to go to, only because the Trump administration prefers to break the law:

… they are absolutely breaking the law.

They’re breaking law as to the conditions of detention.

They’re breaking the law as to the number of hours that they can keep the children in Border Patrol facilities.

They’re breaking the law as far as how long these children are being kept in ORR facilities.

They’re breaking the law by taking the children away from their families.

And they’re also breaking the law by transporting them on Texas state highways without the appropriate child seats and infant carriers and, you know, these booster seats that are required by law.

Everywhere I look, this administration is breaking the law.

This is an ongoing, intentional atrocity. Committing human rights crimes is the Trump policy for controlling immigration. Not only is it illegal, it’s failing. There is outrage over the inhumanity, there are many hands wringing, but where is the outrage at the Perpetrator in Chief?

The torture and killing of immigrant children are not only crimes but impeachable offenses. The failure to faithfully execute and enforce the law is an impeachable offense. You might think there’s been enough suffering and criminality to make even Nancy Pelosi and her fellow dodo Democrats come out of their politically motivated passivity and moral blindness on this US crime against humanity. We shall see.

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William M. Boardman has over 40 years experience in theatre, radio, TV, print journalism, and non-fiction, including 20 years in the Vermont judiciary. He has received honors from Writers Guild of America, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Vermont Life magazine, and an Emmy Award nomination from the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News. your social media marketing partner


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+15 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2019-06-26 16:13
This is good. It is true. Laws are being broken. But "who are you going to call." The Dept. Of Justice does not care at all. Neither do must state attorneys general.

The fact is this kind of treatment is true for all US policing institution. Police at all levels brutalize people routinely. About 2000 people are shot and killed each year by police. The prisons are violations of US law; they are unsanitary, violent. Guards are corrupt. The court system is filled with sociopath prosecutors who love to put defenseless people in prison. They lie, fake evidence, bribe witnesses.

I don't think the US can fix its problems with its law enforcement institutions at all levels. They are too far gone into criminality. They are like criminal gangs .

It is not just Trump. God knows he is terrible, but all presidents and administrations have violated the laws requiring humane treatment of detainees. Things may be getting worse under Trump and that's a good reason to criticize him. But we should not expect anything to get better when Trump is gone. This is Amerikkka. This is what it has always done to the poor, the homeless, and the dark skinned.
+1 # Queca Bronada 2019-06-27 08:19
What have they done with Rodion Raskolnikov?
-9 # Depressionborn 2019-06-26 22:39
The kids don't even have toothpaste. But a bi-partisan Senate just voted $4+ bil for border kid care. Oops, dems are not happy the world is not yet on the way to our border. They may block the 4 $Bil if they don't get an extra $100 Bil for goodies. (For other nations??)
+11 # gdsharpe 2019-06-26 23:09
Two points:
- The law to Trump is merely an inconvenience to be circumvented or ignored.
- Trump enjoys seeing people suffer, physically and or financially. He literally revels in their pain.
+12 # janie1893 2019-06-27 01:31
Babies taken from parents and left with other children as caretakers! Children sleeping on concrete with a space blanket to keep them warm. Babes with no clean diapers, Children with no way to keep themselves clean. Children sick and neglected until their lives are endangered.

+8 # DongiC 2019-06-27 03:58
What is to be done? Boardman and RR raise troubling questions about law enforcement, about how brutal and inequitable it is, about whom you go to with just complaints. The system is breaking down, has broken down and with a president like Trump, its deficiencies become all the more glaring. I am not sure of the answer but we must get help to the children.

If a tsunami or an earthquake hit the Mexican border and we had a large amount of injuries and fatalities, we would send some kind of emergency aid to that region. Perhaps, volunteer physicians and nurses too. Well, we don't have a crisis caused by nature but one perpetrated by a human being, Donald Trump. Why can't we send the same nurses and physicians that we would in the first case? The children are still hurting, still suffering. They shiver through the night sleeping on cement floors. They eat crappy food and dwell in cages. They live in filthy conditions. This is unconscionable and should be stopped at once. Have Americans become monsters? Have we shred our last traces of morality? Of humanity? I sure hope not!
+5 # tedrey 2019-06-27 13:04
I believe that humanitarian organizations, businesses, and individuals have tried to offer essential necessities and services for the sake of the children, and have been refused by Border Patrol and Homeland Security.
+1 # WBoardman 2019-06-27 21:38
DongiC expresses the humane assumption that if there
was a tsunami or other natural disaster, help would be
on the way.

Well, maybe.

Consider the Trump administration and Puerto Rico.

Does a flying roll of paper towels count as help?
+9 # tedrey 2019-06-27 05:23
True, but cleaning up the judicial and penal systems should not be a distraction from removing Trump, or vice versa. Both humanity and sanity require that we do both.
+9 # Kootenay Coyote 2019-06-27 08:31
& under Crimes against Humanity, add the intensifying Aggravated Child Abuse, which is undeniable & diabolical. /Evil / is an old word, but it’s exactly right for this situation, & involves all from bottom to top. hell Trump!
-8 # Depressionborn 2019-06-27 13:25
Quoting Kootenay Coyote:
& under Crimes against Humanity, add the intensifying Aggravated Child Abuse, which is undeniable & diabolical. /Evil / is an old word, but it’s exactly right for this situation, & involves all from bottom to top. hell Trump!

The kids are taken care of best we can without more funding. Dems have stopped the funding,
koot is misinformed. He may be mentally ill along with many wrongheaded rsn posters. Facts seem not welcome here. The border is a big mess because politicians want it so.
+7 # DongiC 2019-06-27 14:30
"The kids are taken care of best we can without more funding." "koot. . .may be mentally ill along with many wrongheaded rsn posters." Is this guy, Depressionborn, bereft of all reason? He seems dreadfully misinformed as to the status of Mexican children separated from their parents and living in filthy conditions in holding places along the Rio Grande border. He accuses RSN posters of being mentally ill which is one of the clearest examples of what psychologists call "projection" that I have ever seen. Stop defining, Depressionborn, other people in terms of your own mental state. Watch something other than Fox News and try to think critically. You may find it refreshing.
+4 # WBoardman 2019-06-27 21:44
Depressionborn has a weird partisan POV,
not rooted in reality.

The treatment of children along the border does not
derive from lack of money, it derives directly from
Trump's deliberate border policy of cruelty.

And it derives from Trump admin decisions to spend
more and more on enforcement and let the post-arrest
conditions take care of themselves.

Definitely mismanagement.

Could be criminal negligence.
+2 # lfeuille 2019-06-27 23:22
He violates the law on just about everything. Anyone have any ideas on whose going to hold him accountable and force him to obey it since congress is so far refusing to do their duty and impeach him?
+1 # DongiC 2019-06-28 19:04
I don't know if Trump requires impeachment or exorcism or both. Incidentally, shamans can perform exorcisms, Roman Catholic priests and bishops also.
+1 # tedrey 2019-06-28 23:16
I think the industrial countries Trump is threatening to sanction if they don't join his punative sanctions on Iran may come up with some ideas pretty soon. As for American politicians they are just showing him their soft underbellies. The Progressives are our only hope at home.
0 # RICHARDKANE.Philadelphia 2019-07-01 09:39
Trump supporters who are asking for insurrection

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