We have learned that a detention camp for teens is opening again in Carrizo Springs, Texas. It is run by Baptist Child and Family Services, the organization that ran the camp along the river in the Borderlands of west Texas at a Port of Entry. It was called Tornillo. It became a symbol of all that is wrong about immigration policy. A movement grew as people gathered to witness what they could of the children inside. Without witnesses the children would have been invisible. One child later told us that there were times during his confinement when he could not remember his own name.
The outcry against a child prison in the desert brought down the tents at Tornillo. But the policy, like a metastasized cancer, did not die. It grew in Homestead, Florida, and witnesses took their vigil there, and months later, under the floodlights of vigilance, the doors were shut to that swamp of a prison, on the edge of the Everglades.
And it grows again. Some might want to suggest that the problem is bad prison keepers, that under a new administration the confinement of children in the large congregate settings, using the euphemism of influx shelters, the children will be protected.
Protected from what? That’s the crux of this particular kind of racism. Because what we are supposed to be protecting them from is their families. Families who they have traveled to join here in our country. Families they may have been separated from, owing to conditions we have created. Restrictions at the border that break families apart. Hardships in their home countries that drain the lifeblood of family life. We shatter these families, and then we self-righteously interfere with the journeys they make to pull the pieces together.
And in the process we damage their souls. We provide a clear and present danger to them in the name a racist fantasy. Imagine, if you will, walking into a shopping mall and grabbing a white 13-year-old by the arm and interning him in a prison camp while virtuous prison keepers laboriously determine whether the home he would have gone home to after his day at the mall was safe and appropriate. Weeks and months to make that determination.
Can you spot the racism now?