In recent weeks, a new massive wave of immigrant children has arrived in U.S. border towns after making the dangerous journey from Central American countries, just to land in even more unsafe conditions in detention centers at over 700% capacity. The Biden administration has made the decision to not turn these children away at the border, a drastic difference from the previous presidency. But thousands of adult migrants and asylum seekers are still being sent back, which can be attributed to Title 42, a Trump-era law that allows the government to detain migrants if there is a fear they may be carriers of disease. Yet, the Biden administration has no plan to deal with the thousands of migrant children who are desperate to leave the violence and poverty of their home countries. This lack of planning has led to situations such as the detention facility in Donna, Texas, where 1,800 young detainees are held in a facility supposed to only hold 750 people.
Despite its attempts at distancing itself from Trump’s racist policies, the Biden administration continues to perpetuate many of the rules and practices that have only made this situation worse. While hopeful due to the fact that they are not being sent back immediately, these thousands of children are spending weeks in detention when by law they should not be held for longer than 72 hours. And even as the U.S. Department of Health and Humans Services is attempting to solve the overcrowding issue by opening more shelters that were closed down during the pandemic, many of these shelters are not equipped to care for children for the extended period of time it seems they will have to be there. Instead of releasing these children as soon as possible to relatives who are willing to sponsor them in this country, the Biden administration is asking FEMA to help build more shelters in which to house these children. And, as if the obvious horror of this situation isn’t enough, the Biden administration is also preventing lawyers and immigrant advocates from entering the detention centers and assessing their conditions.
No matter how much Biden wants to be different from Trump, the reality is that neither the Republicans nor the Democrats have the interest of immigrants in mind. If they did, they would not be self-satisfied with sound bites and less punitive policies that are not solutions to the problem, but that in fact endanger people’s lives. The only way to stop these forced and dangerous migrations is to ensure that people feel safe where they are. The U.S. government has historically meddled in and worsened the conditions in these Central American countries to benefit U.S.-based corporations with big investments there. So, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that people are now fleeing.
The real interest of the Democratic and Republican Parties is to defend the interests of the One Percent. This is a crisis that has been created by the capitalist system and which is sadly being paid for by these thousands of children who will forever be traumatized.