Detention Centers for Immigrant Families and Children – The Arkansas Welcome Mat

Tent City in Texas where children and being held.

Little Rock       Trump’s executive order claimed to end the family separation policy, but it doesn’t end the crisis or solve the problems.  Officials from the Department of Human Services and Immigration and Customs Enforcement reportedly were scurrying around the country trying to find federal facilities that could house up to 20,000 unaccompanied children and an untold number of others.  They were particularly enamored of military installations, viewing several locations in Texas and Arkansas.

One site they inspected was an abandoned US Department of Agriculture site in Kelso, Arkansas in the southeastern delta area of the state.  That site is only two miles from Rohwer, Arkansas, little known for anything much these days and hardly a postage stamp of a town, but infamous for having served as one of the notorious Japanese-American detention camps during World War II in one of the darker periods of American racial and ethnic history.   Even as tone deaf as the Trump administration has been about its mishandling of the migrant and refugee crisis at the border with Mexico, it is still hard for me to believe they would be clueless enough to allow the media a political field day that would come with setting up a 21st century version of the same horror so close to the ongoing stain of America’s own experience in running concentration camps.

Mayor DeBlasio of New York City was horrified visiting a center in his city that held over 200 children that had been separated from their families at the border and was protesting loudly his inability to get answers from federal authorities on the status and future of these children.  The Mayor of Houston told the federal government he did not want them to construct a planned detention center in his city.  Governor Cuomo of New York said his state didn’t want to have anything to do with children and family detention centers.  In the alternate reality of Arkansas, Governor Asa Hutchinson welcomed the feds interest in his state and made suggestions, including about the feasibility of the Little Rock Air Force Base as a detention facility.  There is controversy in Arkansas over monuments celebrating the ten commandments on the state capitol grounds, but any religious concern by conservative Arkansas politicians for family values evaporates when they start reading the stories about billions of dollars of contracts and jobs galore to run these children prisons.  I think there are a good many passages in the bible about the dangers of serving mammon, which is the greedy pursuit of wealth, as opposed to God, but I’ll leave that argument to others.

While the Trump administration is real estate shopping for prison facilities, their lawyers are begging the federal judge to allow them to extend the time they are able to hold children past twenty days and potentially hold their families indefinitely.  The judge has expressed previous reservations about the handling of immigrants and is the daughter of immigrants herself.  Trump’s pleading faces an uphill battle.

I listened this morning to the director of Catholic Charities in Fort Worth, Texas that have received about twenty of these children between five and twelve years old from the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement.  Some of the young children have no idea what a phone number for their families might be.  Others can hardly speak, complicating resettlement.  They continue with their policy of trying to find family members to take the children and try to connect them to their families, while standing in solidarity with their bishop and his condemnation of the Trump program as an insult to the “right to life” and its dignity.

A piece of paper won’t solve this crisis, nor will hard lines and hard hearts.

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The Condominium Doctrine

New Orleans    Many presidents of the United States have been known throughout history for their foreign policy doctrines, good or bad.

The Monroe Doctrine was a message to the world from one of our earliest presidents that we would stay out of European conflicts, but other nations needed to stay out of the North America where we were asserting hegemony.  The Roosevelt Doctrine extended our oversight to all of Latin America and the Caribbean.

The Truman Doctrine became the policy of containment characterizing the Cold War designed to suppress the Soviet Union in Europe and elsewhere.

The Eisenhower Doctrine, as a key step in global stability, expanded the international role of the United States arguing that any nation state facing aggression from another state could request US economic and/or military aide.

And, so it goes from president to president as the White House defines its foreign policy.  Now in the wake of the first visit of a US president with the equivalent in North Korea, the fundamentals of the Trump foreign policy are clear.  I think, following one policy expert, we can call the current policy, the Condominium Doctrine.

We now approach all countries, friends and foes, on a transactional basis.  The core American value system has now been starkly revealed, and it’s rank commercialism.

Real estate developers are experts in sales-and-promotion.  They build “castles in the sky,” hoping others will believe in their mirages, and that they will reap their profits and be gone before the whole thing disappears in dust.

Trump is a real estate developer and television personality who happens to be living in the White House rent free for a bit and using that as his current stage.  In North Korea he showed a 10-minute video sales promotion of economic progress in North Korea with the end of sanctions.  He settled for an unwritten promise of demilitarization just as a developer would tout a promise of project financing contingent on a city council’s approval of new project to build a mall with a hotel in the middle of the retail space.  He reportedly gushed on about the beauty of the beaches in North Korea and their positioning in between China, South Korea, and Japan as a potential tourist destination.  Looking at one waterfront, he asked the North Koreans to imagine having a condo behind that beach.

You can’t make this stuff up.  We all desperately want to believe that there will in fact be peace and progress that emerge from the Singapore summit.  We all continue to believe in miracles, like children who believe in Santa Claus.

Like any developer, Trump is convinced he will be long gone from the White House before this deal and others he is making goes sour.  Like all developers, he will blame his successors, the government, banks and others for the failure, and will have taken his profits out before the crash.

That’s the way the Condominium Doctrine works.  Sell the view and downplay the monthly maintenance and upkeep fees and flip the thing as quickly as possible so that it’s the next owner’s problem while you take your money and run.

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Please enjoy Bishop Gunn’s Shine.

Thanks to KABF.

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