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Manzanar 1943
We thought we'd learned from our mistakes.  We thought we knew better.

During WWII we made a grave mistake, we let our fear and paranoia after Pearl Harbor drive us to allow the internment of Japanese American Citizens in Camps such as Manzanar.

It wasn't until 40 years later in 1988 that President Ronald Reagan signed a bill  that both apologized and paid restitution to the 60,000 internment survivors still within the U.S.

What is occuring today in Taylor Texas may yet require another future President to make similar gesture of sorrow and regret for actions occuring on our watch.  Only this time, the targets aren't Japanese-Americans, they're innocent Muslims and their children.

As he signed the Internment Restitution Bill Reagan Stated:

Yes, the Nation was then at war, struggling for its survival and it's not for us today to pass judgment upon those who may have made mistakes while engaged in that great struggle. Yet we must recognize that the internment of Japanese-Americans was just that: a mistake. For throughout the war, Japanese-Americans in the tens of thousands remained utterly loyal to the United States. Indeed, scores of Japanese-Americans volunteered for our Armed Forces, many stepping forward in the internment camps themselves. The 442d Regimental Combat Team, made up entirely of Japanese-Americans, served with immense distinction to defend this nation, their nation. Yet back at home, the soldier's families were being denied the very freedom for which so many of the soldiers themselves were laying down their lives.

Journalist David Niewert while making a public speech in Seattle regarding these camps based on is his book Strawberry Days: How Internment Destroyed a Japanese American Community found himself recently peppered with antagonistic questions from one elderly caucasian in the audience who had apparently been taking tips from the likes of Michelle Malkin and failed to note the fact that many of those held in places such as Manzanar were not immigrants, they were American Citizens who simply happen to be of Japanese decent.

He finally stepped in it, however, when he attacked my consistent use of the term "concentration camps" to describe the so-called ten "relocation centers" that held some 120,000 internees. (There has been some ongoing discussion of exactly what terminology to use to describe the Japanese American "internment"; currently, most historians favor using "internment camps" to describe the military camps that held a number of "enemy aliens" swept up in Justice Department arrests shortly after the outbreak of war, while the "relocation centers" -- a bureaucratic euphemism concocted by architects of the evacuation -- are more accurately described either in terms of the incarceration they represented, either as "prison camps" or "concentration camps.")

"You shouldn't call them concentration camps," he said. "We weren't starving people to death or murdering them in gas chambers. Calling them that makes people think that's what went on there."

Well, I responded, what you're describing is properly called a death camp. "Concentration camp" was a term created, during the Boer War, to describe the mass prison camps the British erected to incarcerate Boer families. It has been used consistently afterward to describe these kinds of arrangements, including by both Franklin Roosevelt and Attorney General Biddle, in official documents, to describe the Japanese American camps.

Then as now, we were at war - then as now, American Citizens are being caught up in this net - then as now, we've chosen to close our eyes, close our ears and turned our backs on those whose freedom we have denied including over 200 children (many born in the U.S.) now being held in one Texas Relocation Internment Concentration Camp.  From the American-Statesman.

Groups highlight plight of jailed immigrant families
Cox News Service
Friday, December 15, 2006

AUSTIN, Texas — The T. Don Hutto Residential Center, a private detention facility in Taylor, Texas, is emblematic of new federal policy that detains all unauthorized immigrants from countries other than Mexico while the government determines whether they should be deported or have a legal right to be here.

The Taylor center is used for that purpose, but it and a much smaller one in Pennsylvania share a distinction: They are the only two such facilities in the country that hold immigrant families and children on non-criminal charges.

Last Month the Human Rights group "Texans United for Familes" staged a 35-mile walk from the State Capitol in Austin to the Taylor Faciilities to highlight the issues.

"Housing families in for-profit prisons not only calls to question our moral values and our respect for human rights, but it is also a waste of taxpayer money," said Luissana Santibanez, a 25-year-old University of Texas student and an organizer with Grassroots Leadership, which works to stop the expansion of the private prison industry.

Yes, you did read that correctly - this is a For-Profit Privately operated prison.  This means their incentive isn't to rehabiltate (since no crime has been alleged in these cases), their incentive is simply to house as many "inmates" as possible with the lowest possible overhead, like any other form of slavers human cargo private business would do.

The Taylor jail began holding immigrant families this summer under a contract with the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. It is owned and operated by Corrections Corporation of America. Williamson County receives $1 per day for each inmate held there.

Upon learning about the protests, Rick Zinsmeyer, director of adult probation for Williamson County, said "I was told the purpose (of housing immigrant families) was to keep the families together, instead of separating them, so this is interesting."

Organizers of Thursday's press conference and walk said the Taylor jail houses about 400 people, including about 200 children who are held with their parents. They said children receive one hour of education — English instruction — and one hour of recreation per day, usually indoors.

There is also the issue of whether any these people are actually illegal immigrants or not as noted in this letter from Dallas Attorney John Wheat Gibson who represents several of the detainees at Hutto.

Whoever told you the people imprisoned in Taylor, Texas entered the country illegally lied to you. I have seven clients now imprisoned since November 3 at the T. Don Hutto prison, and every one of them entered the U.S. legally with a visa issued by the United States government.

Furthermore, there is no reason for the imprisonment of these children except as victims of a Michael Chertoff publicity stunt. In midnight raids on November 3 the Department of Homeland Stupidity took these children, who were enrolled in school, from their homes, with their parents and imprisoned them.

The sole purpose of the raids, political propaganda, was apparent from a DHS press release which characterized the victims as "fugitives" and "criminals." In fact, none of the families I know of were either fugitives or criminals. The two families I represent had conscientiously kept the DHS informed of their current residential addresses.

The purpose of the publicity stunt was to make the ignorant Fox-News brainwashed masses believe that 1) the Muslims among us are our enemies but 2) the DHS is protecting us, and therefore 3) we should not mind shredding the Constitution.

Shades of Prager, Goode and Glenn Beck - eh?  To these rabid wing-nuts anything we do to protect ourselves from a potential threat, even if that threat is in the form of a child, is fine in their book.  Nevermind using due process to first prove that there is a threat. Nevermind habeas corpus - which thanks to the Military Commissions Act no longer applies to any "foreigners" anymore.  Nevermind Justice.  These people won't even bat an eye, just as many people during WWII didn't.

This is Racial Profiling at it's most base level, and what's worse is that it completely fails to help identify and isolate those who actually might most wish to harm us, since the available evidence indicates that these people came here to escape oppression, not wage "Jihad".  At least, not until this experience.

This story was previous diaried on Kos just before Christmas, and apparently one commenter provided information from a visitor to the center.

I have been to the Hutto Residential Center in Taylor Texas and can testify that it does not look like their publicity picture. The publicity picture looks almost nice: the lobby of an East European hotel maybe? The reality looks like an updated version of a concentration camp, replete with razor wire, double fence with gravel covered death zone between them. It looks like a place where you would stick grave criminals, not children.

And how about the quality of the conditions, I mean, a little detention really couldn't hurt anyone especially if their parents happen to be nearby right?

Frances Valdez, an attorney with the Immigration Clinic at the University of Texas School of Law who has visited clients at the facility, said detainees have reported receiving substandard medical care and becoming ill from food served at the jail.

"A lot of children are losing weight. People suffer from severe headaches," Valdez said. "I think there's a lot of psychological issues going on. Most of these people are asylum seekers, so they've already suffered severe trauma in their country." She said immigrants are not given psychological treatment.

So they've fleed oppression in their homeland - only to be oppressed by our Der Fatherland Homeland Security Forces and then sold into captivity?

I think this nation is going to have a great deal make restitution and apologize for in the years and decades ahead.

When will we ever learn?


P.S. Last Year KBR received a contract to build large scale versions of the Hutto Center.

KBR, the Halliburton subsidiary recently reprimanded for gross overcharging in its military contracts in Iraq, won a $385 million contract to build the centers. According to the Halliburton website -- www. Halliburton .com -- "the contract, which is effective immediately, provides for establishing temporary detention and processing capabilities to augment existing ICE Detention and Removal Operations Program facilities in the event of an emergency influx of immigrants into the U.S., or to support the rapid development of new programs."

This is just the beginning.

[Crossposted on the Truth 2 Power Project]

Originally posted to Vyan on Mon Jan 08, 2007 at 11:23 AM PST.

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