Were ICE agents being particularly kind and caring to dozens of detained immigrant women by shielding them from the presence of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen during her visit to a Texas detention center last week?
Perhaps after Neilsen was publicly shamed by protestors at a Mexican restaurant in Washington DC for her role in the forced separation of thousands of refugee children from their parents the ICE officials simply wanted to keep the detainees safe by hiding the women on an open soccer field in the sun with temperatures in the upper 90’s.
Or maybe, as ICE claims, they merely brought the incarcerated women outside for “recreation time” while Nielsen toured the Port Isabel detention center in Los Fresnos, Texas to see “first-hand how the men and women of ICE, [Customs and Border Protection] and [the Department of Health and Human Services] are prioritizing the health, safety, and welfare of all of those in our care and custody,” as a spokesperson for the Department of Homeland Security told The Intercept in an article about the visit.
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The Port Isabel facility has been designated as “the primary facility” housing parents separated from their children as part of the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” campaign.
It seems somewhat odd, however, that over 60 women would be temporarily removed from their living areas as Neilsen was inspecting how they were being treated “first-hand.”
The Intercept reports that it has spoken to some of the women who were shuttled to the soccer field and that they hardly found the forced outdoor visit recreational, particularly since participation was not voluntary.
“One woman heard another say she did not want to go. ‘But the guard said we had to, that it was an order because some important officials were coming,’ the woman said.”
The women say that they could see in the distance from their spot on the field that a group of people in street clothes including a “tall woman with shoulder-length, blond hair,” a fitting description of Secretary Neilsen, had arrived.
Assuming that these people out of uniform were not part of ICE, they began shouting for help, hoping that they would be able to reach out to someone who could influence their fate. They were too far away, however, for the sounds of their cries to be heard.
Whatever the true reason for moving the detained women — already separated from their children and unaware of the emergency injunction mandating that parents and children be reunited by July 26 — may be, Nielsen’s tour of the facility surely did not give her a true picture of the conditions under which they are held, in another example of the whitewash being attempted by the Trump administration over their brutal zero-tolerance immigration policies.
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