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Immigrant minors detained in the USA: cruelty, corruption and silence

In recent days, press reports have shown the dreadfully overcrowded and unhealthy conditions experienced by children who have been cruelly separated from their immigrant parents and placed in ‘special facilities’.


Luis Beatón


As Californian daily newspaper La Opinion pointed out when broaching one of the issues concerning the problem, its journalists reported that the pestilence was overwhelming, and some officials even wore masks owing to the stench.

This terrible situation faced by immigrants, including hundreds of children separated from their family members, involves other hardships, and according to analysts, experts and organizations defending the rights of these people, the “facilities” for rounding up those crossing the border have a lot in common with Hitler’s concentration camps.

In the United States, concentration camps exist where detainees are treated with neglect by their governors.

Is it cruelty or corruption? This is a question that arises each time there is news of another abuse committed at the hands of President Trump’s administration, something that appears to be happening on an almost weekly basis.

In general, the answer is “both” says Paul Krugman, a columnist for The New York Times and a Nobel Laureate in economics. “The same applies for the atrocities Washington is perpetrating against people migrating from Central America, and spare us the false indignation – yes, they are atrocities and, yes, the detention centres match the historical definition of concentration camps,” the analyst stresses.

According to Krugman “one reason for these atrocities is that the Trump government sees cruelty as a tool for advancing their policies and as a political strategy: the ruthless treatment of refugees can deter future asylum seekers and, in any case, help motivate grassroots racists”.

What stands out as regards this White House policy is the fact that friends and associates of the president also stand to gain financially as a result, to the extent that, the expert argues, “most detained migrants are in facilities run by corporations with close links to the Republican Party “.

Payments for favours or rewards for “good service” to Trump’s cause are evidenced, for example, in the fact that a few months ago John Kelly, the former chief of staff of the White House who joined the board of directors of Caliburn International, is running the Homestead detention centre for migrant children, the largest in the country.

Krugman suggests that this opens up the whole issue of private prisons and privatization in general.

In fact, studies on privatization often find that it ends up costing more than having government employees carrying out the work, the expert says, and he points out that private contractors who run the business can engineer excessive payments on a scale that exceeds even the wildest dreams of public sector unions.

And what of the quality of the work? In some cases, this is easy to monitor: if a community hires a private company to collect the rubbish, the voters can ascertain whether or not the refuse is indeed being collected.

But if a private company is hired to provide services in a situation where the public cannot see what it is doing, capitalism can lead to poor performance as well as high costs, the economist argues.

In comparing privately and publicly run prisons the expert points out that, actually, those run by private companies have a much worse record on security.

The analyst reveals that the increase in the detention of migrants is an important and new source of profit for the private prison sector, and a driving force behind Trump’s wicked border policy. In this context, Caliburn, the company which is profiting from the detention of migrant children, is being used by former Trump government officials to increase their fortunes, disregarding the suffering of dozens of incarcerated minors, some of whom are killed as a result of bad conditions in the premises.

It is a cause for alarm that thousands of children are living in horrific conditions such as those housed in private centres such as Homestead in Florida, a facility run by the Caliburn company, whose board includes John Kelly, former head of the Southern Command and former secretary of National Security of the current president .

According to critics of these companies and activities, Caliburn is a kind of vulture which feasts on wars and great humanitarian tragedies, operating in Afghanistan, Iraq and – through its subsidiary Comprehensive Health Services (CHS) – at borders within the United States.

That entity according to the US media is financed by, among others, loans from Bank of America which decided to withdraw its support after sending representatives to visit Homestead, according to press reports.

Its main business is running detention centres for child migrants, where they live apart from their parents.

Statistics disclosed indicate that of the federal budget allocated for these purposes ($ 222 million), Caliburn and its subsidiary were paid around $ 800,000 every 24 hours, funds expressly dedicated to the task of housing children (who enter the United States without papers) in dismal conditions.

The concentration camps in Tornillo, Texas and Homestead in Florida, whose detainees are supplied on the back of raids carried out by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Service, were among the beneficiaries of a White House budget of at least $ 3.8 billion in grants and contracts for the “Unaccompanied Alien Children” (UAC) programme.

If there are money and benefits, it is to be expected that those on the receiving end will be close to President Trump. A clear example is that of John Kelly, who four months after resigning from the government, joined this multinational which turns a profit on the back of child migrants. (PL)

(Translated by Nigel Conibear) – Photos: Pixabay


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