Why are we putting children in concentration camps?


The Hell We Create at Our Southern Border
by Dave Lincoln, Lincoln's Risk-Registry

LA Times May 24, 2019 -    Neighbors carry the coffin of 7-year-old Jakelin Caal Maquin into her grandparents' home in San Antonio Secortez, Guatemala, in December. (Oliver de Ros / Associated Press)    Read Story in the Los Angeles Times 

The problem has grown increasingly worse; demands for money to continue constructing holding facilities for refugees to America as an invading force, grow steadily worse. More horrific stories of these Little Hells we have allowed to be created in our country's name are published daily.
Is this America?  Or have we been transported to an alternate reality with values framed by an unthinkable Nazi regime?
I wake up every morning thinking that we are in a war for the soul of our country. Ironically, this is a war we can win only with intelligence and compassion. We have the tools and resources today, at this very minute.

We know how to reconnect these kids with their parents, and we know how to tell their stories. We know how to give every American an opportunity to walk in these immigrant’s shoes (if they have any).

Each day brings the revelation of some new horror.   It is now evident that behind the apparent hysterical claims, parsed as xenophobia, the real cause is greed.   
          Grand Total SW KEY = $2,017,198,310

  ( last accessed 7/1/19)

Six months ago, we began an investigation of the funding of the organizations which were responsible for the care of these immigrant children and their families. We focused on the non-profits because the federal grants were the easiest to document yearly from govt agency reports. Gradually, it became clear that just two charitable organizations had been granted nearly 3.5 billion dollars in just 5 years despite numerous safety and health violations. These grants for SOUTHWEST KEY PROGRAMS (SW KEY) and BAPTISTS CHILDREN’S AND FAMILIES SERVICES (BCFS) and at least another $1.1 billion has been requested as part of the 2019 budget. For this level of government support, you might expect that checks and balances and Federal oversight would be in place to prevent abuse, but you would be wrong. These organizations have gamed the system and turned it into a gold rush on the backs of separated children and unfortunate families. Along the way, they have managed to hide their activities in secrecy and some warped notion that they must be doing good because of their pure and wholesome ideologies.

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          Grand Total BCFS = $1,506,462,639

Last accessed 7/3/19
During the same timeframe, for-profit companies that managed several of the detention centers were paid hundreds of millions of dollars per year to operate similar detention facilities. A private company called Comprehensive Health Services (CHS) - a subsidiary of Caliburn International. operates the largest child migrant detention center in the USA, at the notorious Homestead in Florida. This is the facility that was recently visited by Congressional representatives who were horrified to witness the overcrowding and unsanitary conditions of the detained asylum seekers. Their impressions were just reaffirmed by the Inspector General’s report complete with photos.  CHS recently opened a few more child prisons in TX, despite many documented concerns about conditions there. But that didn’t seem to matter, because it obtained a new government contract and curiously CHS is now controlled by the private equity firm DC Capital Partners DCCP. Why?

( last accessed 7/1/19)
Members of the advisory board of DCCP include Trump’s former Chief of Staff, John Kelly. Next up on the DCCP board: Richard L. Armitage, former U.S. deputy secretary of state; Michael Corbin; former ambassador to the United Arab Emirates; Michael V. Hayden, former director of the Central Intelligence Agency and of the National Security Agency; Donald M. Kerr Jr., former deputy director of science and technology at the CIA; Anthony C. Zinni, former commander-in-chief of the U.S. Central Command and former U.S. Envoy to the Middle East; and Stephen F. Loftus, former director of the Office of the Budget for the United States Navy. Last month, the government awarded CHS a brand new, non-competitive contract worth $341 million, even before the Appropriations bill is signed this week. Obviously, these Washington D.C. lobbyists had earned their share and those in Congress who voted for this profligate spending are doing so, not because they believe it is humane, but for their own profits. 

 Now we see that Congress has allocated another $4.6 billion dollars this week in an Emergency Border Supplemental Appropriation without requiring any guarantees of treatment of these migrants. This includes more than $2 billion for the Office of Refugee Settlement (ORR) to build more unlicensed detention facilities and concentration camps.  Worse, there is no oversight or checks and balances to ensure the money is spent on addressing the immigrant's needs rather than expanding the administration's cruel policies. Simply more money for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE; $200 million) and more money for the Customs and Border Patrol (CBP; more than $1 billion) especially for CBP detention and personnel. There is no telling how much of these funds will be diverted to the construction of the President’s wall.
Taken together, taxpayers have already devoted close to 10 billion dollars to solve a problem which has grown increasingly worse.

Freedom’s Safe Place (FSP) Plan

In contrast, how do we know our plan, Freedom’s Safe Place, will work with so little funding?  FSP will work because FSP found a proven technology and organization, Ushahidi, which has worked in the past in a hundred countries following disasters like earthquakes in Haiti, Hurricanes in Puerto Rico and it has helped reunite families of Victims of Massacres in Africa. We look for success and then partner with those who know what they are doing.  The organizations we will partner with for have already reconnected families at the worst of times when communications are difficult, and infrastructures are damaged. In a world dominated by communications technology and visual imagery establishing communications is what we excel at. We just need to put our prejudice and our politics aside for a moment and solve this logistical problem. We know we have already paid for a solution, isn’t it time to see some results?  

After all, America advertised for immigrants to come here. That is what Lady Liberty’s torch means. Contrary to what most believe, this did not mean refugees were subsidized.  It was left to the refugees themselves and to those of us moved to help.  From 1854 until 1929 homes for children who were orphaned, abandoned or homeless were taken in by families across the country, transported from New York by what became known as Orphan Trains.  Children were accompanied and placed in homes with families who promised to care for them.  The families paid the expenses and many children were adopted into these families.  Other orphans found themselves in less happy circumstances but were raised and educated while being expected to work for the fostering family. 

America was the last hope for generations facing starvation in Ireland and violence, war and economic disruption in other parts of the world.  There is much to be learned from this and one important element is how to keep children with their families and make it possible for those families to stand on their own as they begin new lives. 

This is very possible to accomplish.  We have the tools to make this happen now.  Instead of burdening Americans now struggling with our failing economy can help us establish a sustainable humane economy which offers Percentage As You Earn loans to refugees, allowing them to get on their feet with the basic essentials needed, and pay back the cost with a pledged percentage of their income.  This charging method has proven itself over and over again and had a transformative impact on early America. 

Many of our own ancestors used this to come to America and have the tools needed to establish themselves and prosper.  It is not charity, which is not sustainable.  It is a loan mutually insured and designed to allow for the erratic income stream which refugees can be expected to experience. 

Using this tool refugees can also become homeowners nearly as soon as they arrive. 
 If Trump wants to close our borders and deny desperate immigrants seeking asylum entry.  Did his own ancestors now experience problems?  If so, we can assume he will never admit it.  But instead of turning off the Welcome sign and extinguishing The Statue of Liberty’s torch of freedom, we can open our hearts to new Americans.   The Lazarus Sonnet plaque which famously reads in part ;

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

As a country, we have desecrated that promise of hope. We have betrayed our ancestors, who endured such hardships and made such sacrifices so that their offspring could realize their dreams. We sold out those dreams for the greed of others and we are all to blame if we allow this un-American, inhumane situation to continue.

America has made a wrong turn.  We need to correct course.

We can begin by treating these immigrants with respect and dignity. Repeated, well-documented incidents of child abuse and rape means we must always be on our guard to protect them while they are in government custody. Our government is denying them room even to breathe; toddlers are sitting, numb with fear and alone, without any care whatsoever.  

We cannot continue to ignore Fire Marshall's capacity limits without inviting a horrendous loss of life. They are without private toilet access, sleeping on floors, forced to drink from toilets, without toothbrushes, or a place to wash.

The money being spent is not for the benefit of these smallest refugees to America, it is paid out to enrich the calloused greedy to whom Trump is giving contracts for ‘care.’

Order independent inspections and monitoring and consider video surveillance for their safety during routine activities considering privacy issues. Give them hot meals and exercise and education and counseling and access to a phone like we do with others we incarcerate. Why? Because they're human beings and the rights affirmed in our own Declaration of Independence and Constitution include all people of all nations, not just Americans who happen to agree with the present administration.     

America is honor-bound to treat refugees with compassion. We are destroying the soul of America by placing terrified children in conditions unfit for animals. 

Finally, when we don’t treat the health needs of people detained in dangerous, overcrowded conditions we are inviting virulent outbreaks of new and resistant diseases and widespread epidemics. The world is a small place and if we think we can continue to mistreat those in our care and ignore the plight of the poor and desperate in Latin America we are wrong.  
We are walking a path that leads only to alienation from people of honor in all parts of our world.  As we have done to them, so will this be visited on us. 

Their problems will be at our doorstep and it won’t matter if we open the door. Insects and germs do not respect walls. If we continue to encourage conditions that harbor hyper-resistant superbugs, we will be the ones trying to escape the Little Hells of our own making in this land.

                  David Lincoln
                  Lincoln’s Risk Registry – President
                  July 4, 2019