Monday, February 26, 2007

The Huddled Masses

Peterr at firedoglake has a good deal more information about the T. Don Hutto Residential Center. I knew I had heard the name of this place before, turns out that this is where many of the families grabbed up in the recent, large scale ICE sweeps ended up. That was the operation that stranded children when their parents were taken into custody. Were it not for certain church and private relief action, those children would have been abandoned to the streets.

From firedoglake:

"Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) and the Women's Commission for Refugee Women and Children, two well-known and non-partisan NGOs, released a report entitled Locking Up Family Values (large pdf - 2 MB). It details the conditions at two model "family detention facilites" run by ICE, and the story is appalling."

From the report summary:

"Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service and the Women’s Commission for Refugee Women and Children felt it vital to examine the implications of this expanding penal approach to family detention in order to inform the development of policy and practice that serves the best interests of children and families. To that end we visited both the T. Don Hutto Residential Center and the Berks Family Shelter Care Facility and talked with detained families as well as former detainees. What we found was disturbing:
• Hutto is a former criminal facility that still looks and feels like a prison, complete with razor wire and prison cells.
• Some families with young children have been detained in these facilities for up to two years.
• The majority of children detained in these facilities appeared to be under the age of 12.
• At night, children as young as six were separated from their parents.
• Separation and threats of separation were used as disciplinary tools.
• People in detention displayed widespread and obvious psychological trauma. Every woman we spoke with in a private setting cried.
• At Hutto pregnant women received inadequate prenatal care.
• Children detained at Hutto received one hour of schooling per day.
• Families in Hutto received no more than twenty minutes to go through the cafeteria line and feed their children and themselves. Children were frequently sick from the food and losing weight.
• Families in Hutto received extremely limited indoor and outdoor recreation time and children did not have any soft toys."

The full report is a highly detailed indictment of outsourced cruelty. Entire families limited to 20 minutes to get their food and finish it. Try getting you and your kids through a cafeteria and out in 20 minutes. No shock then, that a pregnant woman is chronically underweight. Prenatal care is substandard, medical facilities are inadequate and not a grape is allowed out of the cafeteria. An apple or a piece of bread for a harried mom will be confiscated and thrown in the garbage. 20 minutes.

I asked in my earlier post, why would a child mention that he wanted to go outside? Turns out that family recreation time is severely limited. The families sleep in cells. The children are threatened with separation from their parents as a form of discipline. What kind of sick mind dreams up penitentiaries for families? I'm sure you could come up with an example or two.

The people in places like Hutto are there on matter of immigration. Immigration is civil, not criminal law. But it all gets dirtied up by the Department of Homeland Security. Somehow, when Michael Chertoff is involved, human suffering isn't far behind. Something has gone wrong in America. That great obnoxious land of sky's the limit has become that which it professes to hate. They are becoming villains against freedom, breakers of liberty and all in the rapture of sweet terror. Each new sweeping campaign against the mysterious somebody, somewhere, that might mean you harm, excuses a new encroachment on basic freedoms. Dissent is treason. Families are interned. Malkin can sleep well, because somewhere brown children are paying.

A paranoid soul might imagine that everything America ever stood for is being dismantled. Right, left, middle and fringe, America has always been the place that others aspired to, the wild western frontier. A land of laws, rights and freedoms, governed by the will of an informed populace. America has never been perfect but it has often been astounding, even heroic. But now, it is a nation led by small men sick with greed and they are looting the place. I worry about all my friends down there, exercising their freedom. I worry about what the cult of fear might do next. I worry about a little kid that just wants to come home.


Zorpheous said...

This is just to sick and discusting to even comment on. But I'm sure CC, the rightwing Blogging Tories will lable you as a pure American hater and you should just stop bashing America and all that is good in George Bush's America

Annamarie said...

CC, you wrote a compelling piece! Thank you so much!


(when I comment on a Blogger site, it only lets me use my Google acct to leave the comment, so that's why it takes you back to my old site which I now use for archives. thought to tell you in case you were wondering)

catnip said...

The neocon-produced situation in America is going to take decades to remedy. In the meantime, those trapped in it will continue to suffer in too many ways.

I don't even know what "the American dream" is anymore.

CC said...


That wasn't me, that was PSA who wrote that. Let's all be careful to give credit where credit is due.

Ti-Guy said...

Actually, from what I've been reading, the paranoid style in American politics has been around since forever. I think it's a manifestation of being an ideological nation.

The only way out of it would be a return to grass-roots democracy. But that's long gone...democracy in the US now is almost entirely an activity by and for, the ruling class.