A jail for babies: Absurdity and abuse at the American border

Author(s): 
Publication Type: 
Other Writing
Publication Date: 
July 22, 2015

The government’s approach at the edge of our nation, our southern border, mirrors the way we think of the edge of our own consciousness: a dark place to hide our most absurd and troublesome secrets.

Since December 2014, the government has paid millions of dollars to a private prison corporation to operate what may be the world’s largest internment camp for asylum-seeking women and children. Nearly 2,000 mothers and their young kids, fleeing persecution and seeking protection under international law, are currently caged and abused by our government in southern Texas.

With a federal court ruling expected to denounce this practice of so-called “family detention” finally on its way, the absurdity of this policy is emerging from the edges. And it requires our reckoning.

Why is the government incarcerating young mothers and their children? Why is a private prison company profiting off of their confinement? And why hasn’t anyone been held accountable?

The euphemistically named “South Texas Residential Family Center” (“STRFC”) is a 55-acre compound of dusty trailers enclosed by 15-foot wire fences and surrounded by miles of empty space in Dilley, Texas. Inside these trailers are nearly 2,000 young mothers (nearly all are under the age of 30) and children (average age, 9) who are under constant surveillance by corporate prison guards. Despite the fact that many of these women and children were forcibly separated from their husbands, fathers, siblings and grandparents by the U.S. government when they arrived at the border and requested asylum, the Department of Homeland Security considers each unit of mother and children to be a “family.”

Read the full piece at Fusion