The casual cruelty of America’s immigration and deportation apparatus was once again made painfully clear with the release of an Associated Press report which alleged horrendous abuses against detained immigrant children.
Caretakers at the Shenandoah Valley Juvenile Center near Staunton, Virginia, are accused of torturing their charges, some of whom were as young as fourteen years old, by locking them in solitary confinement, sometimes nude, tied to chairs and forced to endure vicious beatings.
“Whenever they used to restrain me and put me in the chair, they would handcuff me,” said a Honduran immigrant who was sent to the facility when he was 15 years old. “Strapped me down all the way, from your feet all the way to your chest, you couldn’t really move. … They have total control over you. They also put a bag over your head. It has little holes; you can see through it. But you feel suffocated with the bag on.”
The guards at the facility were white, did not speak Spanish, and are entirely unequipped to deal with the mental trauma that these kids have suffered – and instead went out of their way to make it worse.
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The guards would “routinely taunt the Latino youths with racially charged epithets, including ‘wetback,’ onion head’ and ‘pendejo,'” and then would respond to resistance “by physically assaulting the youth, applying an excessive amount of force that goes far beyond what is needed to establish or regain control.”
Most of the youths were captured attempting to cross the border themselves, fleeing violence and instability in their home countries – but instead of freedom and a chance a new life, they only found racism, abuse, and incarceration.
The Associated Press notes that many of the kids were unfairly accused of being members of the MS-13 gang that President Trump has made his catch-all boogeyman, making clear just how far-reaching the effects of the President’s labeling of “MS-13” members as animals are – and how misplaced the conservative pearl-clutching over the backlash to his obvious dog whistling was.
But the casual sadism of the American immigration system runs through every level of it and is by no means a product of the Trump era, though his administration has certainly been quite open about its desire to terrify and abuse immigrants of color.
Many of the allegations are from a migrant boy who was incarcerated at the Shenandoah Valley facility in 2015, under the Obama administration.
How many horrifying stories of abuse, torture, and sexual exploitation do our garbage politicians need to hear before admitting that the entire thing needs to be dismantled? From police officers to ICE agents, it’s obvious that racism and white supremacy is deeply entrenched in American law enforcement and it manifests itself in the appalling abuse of innocent people – and the abuses will continue until our elected politicians do something about it.
But considering they’ve been well-aware of the abuses in the past, their criminal inaction signals that they’re quite okay with this state of affairs.