A (Bare) Glimmer of Hope

Land of the free. Border Patrol surveillance video.
Amidst the venality we grimly await the pardon for Stone, whose supporters are offering compelling praise like, “ROGER STONE IS A GRATE PATRIOT AND AMERICAN AND SHOULD GET A METAL OF HONOR AND BE MAID A SENATOR” – we instead offer small good news from Arizona, where a federal judge has ruled for detained migrants who have long argued conditions in U.S. concentration camps are frigid, dirty, overcrowded and inhumane. This week’s ruling by U.S. District Judge David Bury, which makes permanent an earlier injunction, found the hellish facilities “are presumptively punitive and violate the Constitution.” The order, marking the end of a class-action lawsuit brought by migrants in 2015, came after a week-long trial that detailed overcrowding, ice-cold, inadequate food, sanitation, medical care, and illegally prolonged detention for migrants in Tucson; one video in the trial showed a man walking over bodies to get to a bathroom, where all the stalls were filled with sleeping people. Bury ruled border officials must provide conditions that “meet basic human needs,” sleeping at least on clean mats with thin blankets (and not in bathrooms), decent food, a shower and medical care – all conditions experts say are far harsher than in prisons, though asylum seekers, lest we forget, have committed no crime.
News reports described Bury’s order as “siding with migrants.” Given it took them five years to get a thin blanket and edible food, better to call it “siding with humanity” – a revolutionary act today. In the face of our ongoing savagery, other judges have also demanded small mercies: One in California found the government in contempt for deporting five young immigrants seeking protection under a program for abused children, and another ruled officials must reinstate a detention hotline for complaints after punitively yanking it out. Still, the barbarism continues. “This is Trump’s rancorous message of acrimony and alienation brought to brutal life,” said a shocked Rep. Jackie Spear after visiting a Texas facility. “This (is) not my America…This is not your America.” Nor is it the America thousands of asylum-seekers flock to here in Maine. This week, a friend from Burundi became a U.S. citizen after years of crummy apartments, lousy jobs, breathtaking perseverance; her husband and four kids will soon do the same. The stirring, buoyant, multi-colored ceremony – so much joy! – reminded us: Despite the current horrors, our core values, the tolerance and benificence and hope this country represents to so many, live on. America’s not dead, we realized anew – just kidnapped and waiting for us to reclaim her. Even the immigration official (we know, we know) warmed the heart. Her final words to the glad and crowd: Welcome home.kids_border_patrol_via_ap_1000.jpg

A child crawls around sleeping bodies to the bathroom. Border Patrol video


Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images


From a naturalization ceremony last year. Photo by Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff PH

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