Reprinted with permission from Shareblue.
In response to the Trump administration’s practice of separating children from their parents, Rep. Steve Knight (R-CA) wants to revisit one of America’s darkest chapters and build internment camps for immigrant families.
In a press release touting a new bill, HR 6173, Knight bragged about replicating one of the most atrocious periods in American history.
“H.R. 6173 would require the Department of Homeland Security maintain care and custody of adults charged with illegal entry with their children while charges are pending with the Department of Justice,” Knight said. “This bill would also authorize $50 million for the construction of facilities to safely and securely hold families while legal proceedings are processed.” (The full text of Knight’s bill is not available online, so the only information available is Knight’s own press release.)
Knight’s bill could force many families to sit in detention camps for years. The average wait time for immigrants to get a court date is nearly two years — and in some cases, there is a four year backlog.
Many families are fleeing violence and persecution, and are seeking asylum in a nation that has long been a beacon of hope for the entire world. Knight wants to toss those families in prison camps as they wait months, possibly years, for justice.
The Trump administration, in a scheme similar to the one laid out by Knight, currently has plans to build detention facilities to hold up to 119,000 people.
Even worse, there’s no good reason for either Knight or the Trump administration to do any of this.
Under the current system, families with children who are seeking asylum are released and must return to court for their court date. And contrary to lies used by the Trump administration to stir up fear, families overwhelmingly show up for their appointed court appearances.
In fact, 75 percent of immigrants show up at their court dates, and those that fail to show up do so because “they missed notices sent to old addresses, or because they lack legal representation,” ThinkProgress reports.
Families with children have an even more stellar record — 97 percent of mothers were “in full compliance with their court hearing obligations,” ThinkProgress reports, citing an analysis by the group Human Rights First.
Knight’s desire to build detention centers eerily echoes the actions of President Franklin Roosevelt, who used national hysteria and anti-Japanese sentiment to justify the construction of internment camps for Japanese-Americans in 1942. More than 110,000 people of Japanese ancestry were held in camps over the years.
In 1982, a federal group called the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians concluded that the incarceration of Japanese Americans was based on “racial prejudice, wartime hysteria, and a failure of political leadership.”
In 1988, President Ronald Reagan officially apologized to survivors of Japanese internment camps, calling the policy “a mistake.”
Perhaps Knight should visit the Reagan Presidential Library, in his own district, to learn more about America’s dark past before he seeks to repeat it.