What’s going on now is just the next step in the natural progression we’ve seen over the past few decades. Just a few years ago we had the Obama administration incarcerating women and children (humanely, they claimed, but the courts disagreed) with the same stated and odious aim of deterrence for others who might wish to follow them. We had at least one hunger strike and another woman killed herself. Reports of children being malnourished surfaced, and yet I doubt many here (and we seem to be more awake than most on this issue) heard about it.
As I noted above, I stood beside friends thirty years ago on the Mexican side of the fence waiting for the sun to go down so they could jump over and take their chances with the many dangers awaiting them en el otro lado. (I myself was an undocumented resident and worker in Tijuana at the time.) I’ve known for a long time that Border Patrol officers’ slang for these people–my friends–is “tonks”, reportedly because that’s the sound a Mag-Lite makes when whacked against their skulls. I’ve stood on the Mexican side of the sad little gate in the border fence near the ocean’s edge where a few families are allowed to reach through and touch each other every so often. I’ve been personally confronted and affronted by federal agents. The situation sucks and has sucked since before I came along. It has deteriorated the whole time, in many ways, most especially during the Obama and Trump regimes. I’m not engaging in whataboutism, check ICE’s statistics and tell me who was worse.
Sadly, there is little political traction to do anything about all this. People care, for a while, but the feeling fades and folks move on. I don’t know how many times in my life I’ve seen it, and nothing about the current abuse stands out in a way to make me think this time people will actually do something. We’ve been holding thousands of other people in unspeakable conditions for many years; where is the hue and cry? Meanwhile, a whole bunch of other people need someone to blame for their dimming economic prospects, and the politicians find–as they do everywhere in the world–ready scapegoats. (D) and (R ) have collaborated to create this situation for decades.
I wish I had better news. I hope I’m wrong, but this country’s record on xenophobic reactions to immigrants speaks for itself.