In Failure To Inoculate Asylum Seekers, Federal Gov’t. Hastens Genocide

Anne Frank did not die in a Nazi gas chamber.

She was not put before a firing squad.

She was not incinerated in a crematorium.

She died of typhus in Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.

This is a significant distinction.

Most will agree Anne Frank’s story is powerful because it is one of many illustrating brutal Nazi atrocities.

What happened to her bears little fundamental difference from what is happening to asylum seekers–particularly children–in for-profit concentration camps on our Southern border with Mexico, where they are held in horrific conditions without being charged for crimes.

Every day more details come out about this stain on the “land of the free.”

Another example broke this week.

Think about when someone in our homes, workplaces, or classrooms has a cold. The likelihood of us contracting that cold increases.

Now think about what happened this spring when the measles came to New York: the New York Assembly voted to eliminate a vaccine religious exemption for schoolchildren.

So when the federal government refuses to inoculate detained migrant families–many of whom are mothers and small children–from deadly diseases while keeping them in cramped conditions, what outcome can we expect?

They are going to fulfill the xenophobic myth Fox News and other right-wing hate media promulgated in the lead-up to Donald Trump’s election and last year’s mid-term elections that asylum seekers are exposing us to communicable diseases like smallpox we eradicated years ago.

According to a new Centers for Disease Control (CDC) report, in less than a year there have been 921 new cases of mumps in or around 57 immigration facilities.

Contrast this with 150 diagnosed cases of mumps nationwide since 2015.

Since last October, 890 immigrants and 31 detention facility employees have contracted mumps at 57 Customs and Border Protection (CBP) or Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) facilities in 19 states, the majority privately operated.

Nashville immigration attorney R. Andrew Free, tracking facilities with mumps outbreaks from advocate reports and lawyers representing detainees, said:

“This has all the makings of a public health crisis. ICE has demonstrated itself incapable of ensuring the health and safety of people inside these facilities.”

Responding to the CDC’s report, ICE spokesman Bryan Cox said:

“In general, due to the short-term nature of CBP holding and the complexities of operating vaccination programs, neither CBP nor its medical contractors administer vaccinations to those in our custody.”

Earlier this summer, ICE confirmed around 4,200 of 5,200 quarantined detainees were exposed to mumps. The CDC argues most of them contracted it while in ICE custody or in the custody of another U.S. agency.

As as we enter influenza season, we must also consider the administration, citing “the short-term nature of CBP holding,” will not provide flu vaccines to detainees.

That “short-term nature” is not so short when the administration decides to terminate a decades-old legal settlement prohibiting indefinite detention.

In July, Dr. Colleen Kraft, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, described “government-sanctioned child abuse” after what she witnessed when touring one of the camps:

“I can’t describe to you the room I was in with the toddlers. Normally toddlers are rambunctious and running around. We had one child just screaming and crying, and the others were really silent. And this is not normal activity or brain development with these children.”

Dr. Kraft talked about the “toxic stress” responsible for the harm to these children’s brains, adding:

“It disrupts their brain architecture and keeps them from developing language and social, emotional bonds, and gross motor skills, and the development that they could possibly have.”

Kraft asserted what the Trump administration is perpetrating upon these children is tantamount to “government-sanctioned child abuse.”

But Dr. Kraft wasn’t the only pediatrician to speak out.

Dr. Dolly Lucio Sevier discovered similar examples of infection, malnutrition, and psychological trauma at a Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) facility in McAllen, Texas where over 1,000 children are being imprisoned.

Despite examining one child at a time, Dr. Sevier was not permitted to enter the area where the children were held, many in cages.

When Sevier asked the 38 children she examined about sanitation, all replied they were not permitted to wash their hands or brush their teeth.

The Office of the Inspector General released images showing asylum seekers–many women and children–stuffed into overcrowded cages, lying on cement floors.

One cage has stuffed into it 88 men in a space for 41.

One of the photos clearly shows a man in one of these cells holding a sign reading, “HELP. 40 DAY HERE.”

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NBC News reported:

“The investigators for the DHS Office of the Inspector General toured five Border Patrol facilities and two ports of entry in the Rio Grande Valley sector during the week of June 10 and published their report as a ‘management alert‘ to the department on Tuesday.

“The Rio Grande Valley of Texas has the highest volume of immigrants along the United States-Mexico border. At the time of the visits by investigators, Border Patrol was holding 8,000 detainees in custody, with 3,400 being held longer than the 72-hour limit.

“The report also detailed what it called ‘security incidents’ in which immigrants have tried to escape and once refused to return to their cells after being removed during maintenance. To address the problem, Border Patrol called in its special operations force to demonstrate it was prepared to use force if necessary.”

According to legal affidavits filed April 23, 2018 in U.S. District Court in California, refugee children in U.S. custody were being injected with psychotropic drugs that inflict dizziness, lethargy, and sometimes incapacitation.

The Trump administration has detained more than 40,000 children so far this year, a 57- percent increase from last year.

At this rate, we will surpass 2016’s record figures of 59,171.

No matter how we look at it, we have become “that country.”

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Ted Millar is writer and teacher. His work has been featured in myriad literary journals, including Better Than Starbucks, The Broke Bohemian, Straight Forward Poetry, Caesura, Circle Show, Cactus Heart, Third Wednesday, and The Voices Project. He is also a contributor to The Left Place blog on Substack, and Medium.