Now, forty years after the Sandinista victory in Nicaragua, are we celebrating? That’s a hard question. Solidarity with Nicaragua is not dead but it is complicated.
By Kathy Peterson
In March, I joined the now 100-day-long witness at the immigrant children's prison camp located in Homestead, Florida. There were roughly 2,200 kids there from ages 13-17 and new busloads arrived most nights. The government is aiming to reach full capacity: 3,200 incarcerated children. Recent family separation and child detention efforts were aimed at dissuading asylum seekers from coming to the US. Like the decades of other prevention through deterrence policies, this policy failed completely. However, well-connected former government members have realized that there is tremendous money to be made in this scheme.
Although a Federal Judged ordered child separation to end on June 26, 2018, it continues. Any child who arrives with someone who is not a proven parent is considered unaccompanied and sent to the prison camp. Any parent who has previously tried to enter the US is immediately charged with the crime of illegal re-entry, and the family will be separated and imprisoned. Any parent with an arrest record in their native country will have their child taken and be jailed. This includes charges related to defending oneself in domestic violence circumstances. The number of detained immigrant children climbs everyday even though there are families and sponsors wanting to be reunited with their children.
As more children have been detained (from about 2,700 when Trump took office to more than 15,000 by December 2018), there has emerged a closed loop of profit and power that has allowed a small number of corporate actors to reap enormous gains, which are then funneled in part into campaign contributions, which in turn ensure the creation and maintenance of policies to protect and promote their personal financial benefit. The for-profit companies running these prison camps have no incentive to release children. Right now, there are about 11,000 separated children being held in 100 sites.
At Homestead, the largest prison of any kind in the US, they are being paid $750 a day per child. At a capacity of 3,200 children, that is $2.4 million a day of tax payer money being funneled into the for-profit DC Capital Partners Corp, the company that owns Comprehensive Health Services (CHH), which operates the Homestead Camp. The 10-member board of DC Partners includes former top national security, diplomatic, and military officials. One member, John Kelly, is the former Trump Chief of Staff and Secretary of Homeland Security. He helped craft the policies that caused these detentions and now he is making money off those very policies.
CHH has just been awarded a no bid $341 million contract to run Homestead beyond October. This has outraged some members of Congress who are calling for an investigation. CHH is not licensed to care for children in Florida. In addition, CHH has paid a $3 million medical fraud settlement in Florida for double-billing while providing medical screenings for IRS agents. In May, General Dynamics (GD) got a $1.6 million contract to provide training and technical assistance at Homestead. GD has faced $280.3 million in penalties for 23 misconduct cases since 1995. When the kids turn 18, they are handcuffed, shackled, and transferred to a GEO-owned facility, the infamous Broward adult prison. GEO has made major campaign contributions to Donald Trump and hired a lobbyist who worked on behalf of Trump’s Florida golf courses. It is clear that our criminally corrupt system of making war on brown migrants is enriching a small few who have found criminalization to be a very lucrative path to obscene profits.
Follow the movement to end immigrant child prisons on Facebook: Witness Tornillo: Target Homestead. There are daily actions announced on the page that you can take to help end this atrocity.
Go to Homestead to join the Witness. Call Kathy Peterson 314-781-5740 for information.
Invite a speaker come to your group and/or include and article in your newsletter/bulletin/publication. Call Kathy Peterson 314-781-5740 for information.
Donate! Consider the following:
Support the Detained Migrant Solidarity Committee at Fianzafund.org to post bond to reunite families. Donations to the Fianzafund.org are tax deductible through their fiscal sponsor, the Alliance for Global Justice.
Speak up about the atrocity of child prison camps every day until they no longer exist.
About the Author:
Kathy Peterson and her husband, Dan Mosby, have been involved with IFCLA for more than 30 years. They participated in the Witness at the now closed Tornillo, Texas, child concentration camp, joined in a week of lobbying the U.S. congress to end the mass incarceration of immigrant children, and have recently returned from Witnessing at the Homestead, Florida, concentration camp.
Ever wonder how many people can enter the US each year? Is there a limit? Based on what? What pathways exist to immigrate to the US? The answers to these questions often depend on an individual's relationships, country of origin, economic class, and even age. This article gives a break down on the amount of time it takes for people to enter the US, and how many people turn to migration to reunite with families. Plus, see what you can do to help create safe migration that honors the dignity of all.
Berta Cáceres was an activist, leader, environmental rights advocate, and a voice for human rights all over Central America, but heavily focused on Honduras. She was a cofounder of the National Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras, which was designed to address threats to indigenous communities, and help them fight for their land rights and improve their quality of life. She was an advocate for equal representation, anti-violence, and land rights for the indigenous and native people of Honduras.
Where is the “center” of immigration issues in the United States today? Is it there, in Arivaca, on that shrubby plain, surrounded by the discarded items of migrants en route? Is it at Paso del Norte, under the bridge that connects El Paso to Juarez, where thousands of migrants huddle together, freezing and hungry? Is it in the White House, where the administration routinely dehumanizes and criminalizes migrants?
Within this Administration, there have been multiple bills that seek to deter people from immigrating to the U.S., but deterrence tactics are not new: U.S. border and immigration policies and laws have utilized deterrence for decades, including policies such as Operation Gatekeeper from the Clinton Administration, Operation Guardian Support from the Trump Administration, as well as other deterrence policies and tactics specifically surrounding the deserts in Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico. The deterrence policies and tactics maintained and expanded by the current administration systemically deny the dignity of migrants and in many cases have led to irreversible consequences. We must come together to bring about compassion and respect for those who have sacrificed so much to find a better life.
Thank you all so much for the support and community you provided during IFCLA’s Week of Gratitude! The week was successful on many levels; besides the atmosphere of fun and connection achieved, IFCLA gained sixteen new sustainers and multiple one-time donations over the course of the week! These new sustainer commitments will help IFCLA immensely over the course of the next year, and we are more grateful than we can say. Let’s recap our week: