In an earlier post, I described how Department of Justice lawyer Sarah Fabian tried to defend the awful conditions that detained migrant children were being kept in, being denied soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes, showers, beds, and cloth blankets tin very cold rooms with the lights permanently on, to an incredulous panel of three justice in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. There is now video of her exchanges with the justices and it is well worth watching as she tries to escape from the close questioning of the justices as to what children in captivity are entitled to.
A Trump official tried to argue that detained children don’t need soap, toothbrushes, or beds to be ‘safe and sanitary’ while in Border Patrol custody pic.twitter.com/sRFPZsDbwy
— NowThis (@nowthisnews) June 21, 2019
As Mark Frauenfelder writes, reactions to Fabian’s arguments came from all over. Jason Rezaian, a writer for Washinton Post Global, who was held in custody in Iran for a year and a half, tweeted he was given toothpaste and a toothbrush from the very first day and allowed to shower every couple of days. New Yorker editor David Rohde, who was held hostage by the Taliban for seven months, tweeted that “The Taliban gave me toothpaste & soap”. Michael Scott Moore, who had been held captive by Somali pirates, also tweeted that “Somali pirates gave me toothpaste & soap.”
So there we are, even pirates treat their captives better than the US treats the children it detains.
Ken White traces the history of how this kind of abuse became normalized back to the Obama administration and that there is a lot of blame to go around.
Before Sarah Fabian defended concrete floors and bright lights for President Donald Trump, she defended putting kids in solitary confinement for President Barack Obama.
The fault lies not with any one administration or politician, but with the culture: the ICE and CBP culture that encourages the abuse, the culture of the legal apologists who defend it, and our culture—a largely indifferent America that hasn’t done a damn thing about it. This stain on America’s soul will not wash out with an election cycle. It will only change when Americans demand that the government treat the least of us as both the law and our values require—and firmly maintain that demand no matter how we feel about the party in power.
White writes that the Trump administration made a grave mistake in appealing the lower court decision that its treatment of children violated the Flores guidelines.
The judges ultimately suggested that the United States should consider whether it wanted to maintain the appeal—a signal that litigants ignore at their grave peril.
The United States’s loathsome argument—that it is “safe and sanitary” to confine children without soap, toothbrushes, dry clothes, and on concrete under bright lights—is morally indefensible. It’s also a spectacularly foolish argument to raise in the famously liberal Ninth Circuit, where the United States should have expected exactly the reception that it got.
It should be noted that one of the justices hearing the case was A. Wallace Tashima, who as a child in World War II was confined to an internment camp with other Japanese Americans.