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Your Silence is Complicity

Jesus is an undoc student based in California. He's spent more than a year and a half engaging in migrant rights and is against the camps.

Let's Set the Scene.

Imagine yourself in the following situation.

You're having lunch after a long day of school. Your parents are also back from work, and you talk about the happenings of the day at the table. Your dad had a tough day at work, and he may be laid off because they will be doing a round of verifications in his place of employment. Your mother has been struggling to keep up with work and taking care of your younger siblings, but the household needs the income.

A knock on your door, it's someone that claims to be from the cable company. Your dad opens the door, since he's said that he wants to check out a few things. As soon as he opens the door, he gets yanked out, and multiple agents run outside of a van right outside your house. Agents storm into your home, and drag you and your mother with your father into the van. You call out, hoping that a neighbor will decide to take care of your younger siblings while family is contacted.

This is the situation that is and has been unfolding in this country for decades. Like a secret police, engaging in various tactics, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has seeded fear into migrant communities. They wait outside of schools, outside of courhouses, and even storm into homes to take their victims.

While it never helps to compare one genocide to another, it is key to draw parallels and learn from them to avoid new ones. In countries like the USSR, Nazi Germany, and Argentina, these practices were commonplace. The act of rounding people up on small charges like traffic infractions, or sometimes even no charge or warrant at all. Whether it's the idea that the person or people group being persecuted doesn't belong, proves to be a political threat, or simply that the people group is filthy or inherently criminal, the United States is no different from these countries in engaging in such genocidal acts.

Across the country today, detainees are kept in cramped spaces with limited hygene and lack of proper nutrition, separated from their children. According to Freedom For Immigrants, an organization based in the US, approximately 81% of those detained in more than 200 camps countrywide are kept for a year or longer before eventually being deported to their countries of origin.


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We Are Humans.

Since 2004, more than 190 people have died within these US detention centers. Among these is Mr. Carlos Ernesto Escobar Mejia. He was born in 1962, and he died at the age of 57 due to Coronavirus.

Mr. Escobar Mejia was arrested in Los Angeles for "possession of a controlled substance", and the LAPD collaborated with ICE, for which he was detained in 2012. After a few proceedings and Mr. Escobar Mejia paying bond, he was allowed to walk free. In January 10, 2020, Mr. Escobar was found in San Diego by ICE, and was detained once more at the age of 57. His records show him having hypertension and even possible issues with diabetes and insulin levels.

On April 24th, 2020, Mr Escobar Mejia was diagnosed with Covid-19, and he battled with the disease. Only after he needed to be heavily sedated, put on a ventilator, and had a lung collapse was his family notified of his condition. 6 days after his family was notified, at 2AM, May 6th, 2020, he was pronounced dead by a physician.

Mr. Huy Chi Tran, another one of these deaths. He died of multiple blocked arteries while within ICE facilities, 8 days after his medicines had been changed by officials within the camp.

Keep in mind that a LOT of the deaths witin the Camps are preventable. While this information is public and sourced by the Department of Homeland Security, there is a whopping amount of documented abuses by staff.


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Abuse. Persecution.

While we put aside the argument that nobody is illegal on stolen land and ignore the fact that people are being forced out of their homes due to exploitation and European and US imperialism, setting aside the fact that people are being rounded up in such a barbarian way, let's talk about what happens inside the camps.

In 2018, Ms. Yu from Public Broadcasting Atlanta submitted a freedom of information act request, in which information regarding a recent inspection was requested. This document detailed interactions of inspectors with detainees, documenting their experiences in concerns.

One detainee reported that Muslim detainees were made to miss prayer intentionally due to headcounts or simply intentional delay by the staff. Staff have abused detainees psychologically using faith, by arguing with detainees over prayer times. Detainees have at times been served moldy, expired Kosher and Halal meals that have long gone bad.

Another detainee accounted that he had been groped by the genitals by a staff member, when he was accused of stealing peanut butter from the kitchen. As a kitchen worker, he details his experience in being ordered to serve moldy bread and obviously expired food. At one point when the detainee reported the decomposition in the food he was to serve, staff simply cut off the rotten part and ordered for the rest to be served.

In Lumpkin, Georgia, protests broke out within a pod because of the fact that there had not been heating or warm water within the facility for an extended period of time. Within that enclosed area, due to the protesting, the rooms were filled with pepper spray until they "calmed down." In this same facility it was documented that when non-English speaking detainees broke rules, the staff would yell aggressively in English, explaining that "[they] know what I want."

In some cases, people have had to wait 9 days to receive a checkup, even 10 weeks for a chest X-ray. Necessities like toothpaste, soap, and lotion are rare and lacking in most of these facilities. All of these abuses, while despicable, are simply the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the abuses and persecution within these camps.

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Gas Chambers.

In May 21st, 2020, a complaint was submitted by the Inland Coalition for Immigrant Justice as well as Freedom For Immigrants. In this complaint, alarming abuses are detailed regarding the use of disinfectants within the camps.

The product is called HDQ Neutral, made by the Spartan Chemical Company. According to the information provided by Spartan Chemical Company, instructions call for the chemical to be used only in open, well-ventilated areas along with the usage of protective gear. Warnings advise against skin contact, eye contact, inhaling fumes, or consuming the product, and direct users to report such incidents to poison control. The product is currently a Hazard Class 8, with a Packing Group of III, which means it could lead to full-thickness destruction of the skin.

This chemical, according to detainees, is causing people to experience hours-long nosebleeds, red eyes, and bloody coughs. I will let quotes from these real people speak for themselves.

“The toxic spray they are using is making everyone inside very sick. It's causing allergies and a lot of detainees are sneezing and coughing up blood.” "There is no fresh air to breathe in the room. The guards have masks & gloves so don't seem bothered by it but many of us have very red eyes, sore throats, and headaches." "I started bleeding from my nose after being in contact with a strong chemical they are using. I am still bleeding, more than five hours later. An official had entered the bathrooms in the morning and sprayed a very strong disinfectant...When I complainedto [supervisory staff], she told me that it is not her problem..." "Many of us are very allergic to the substance that they have been spraying. It causes rashes and there is one man with blisters. The bottles say "HDQ." They spray it on the phones, chairs, tables, every 15-20 minutes - all day & all night long."

March For Daca, Los Angeles Nov 2019

March For Daca, Los Angeles Nov 2019

Stop Being Complicit

As we rally for the right to not be murdered by police in this country, it is important that we do not leave Immigration, ICE, and GEO group out of the conversation. Throughout this situation, we have often referred to the silence and the complicity in silence. Let's not stop, let's in fact expand that idea. This is not to say that nobody has showed up for undocumented issues in the past, because a lot of you have, but we need action. Undocumented people cannot go out to riot, because they will be detained and forced into those same conditions.

Justice will come, one day, whether that is tomorrow or in 100 years. The silence of many Germans as they slid into fascism, or the silence of Argentinians as their siblings were persecuted by Videla, or the cooperation of Dominican whites in the forced deportation of Black Dominicans into Haiti, you will be complicit too in this genocide. You will not be able to claim that you did not know, or that you did not know what to do, because it is all written here, compiled into a neat article.

When the United States is judged for its crimes against humanity, you too shall be held morally responsible for collaboration, cooperation, and silence. Act.

This is genocide. Protest it, oppose it, vote against it, protect your undocumented friends, in the words of Malcom X, by any means necessary.

Sources

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