From Gitmo to the Border, America’s ‘Concentration Camps’ Will Be Hard to Dismantle

From Gitmo to the Border, America’s ‘Concentration Camps’ Will Be Hard to Dismantle
A portion of a report from government auditors reveals images of people penned into overcrowded Border Patrol facilities, photographed July 2, 2019, in Washington (AP photo by Andrew Harnik).

Reports of overcrowded and inhumane conditions in detention centers that the Trump administration is using to house migrants and asylum-seekers, mostly from Central America, have given rise to a fierce debate in the United States. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York has repeatedly referred to the camps as “concentration camps,” which critics say is inappropriate given that term’s association with the Holocaust.

Yet while the uniqueness of the Nazi extermination camp system must be recognized, concentration camps are not out of the ordinary. They can be found all over the world at various times in history, as the journalist Andrea Pitzer meticulously documented in her book, “One Long Night: A Global History of Concentration Camps.” For this week’s podcast interview, she joins WPR’s associate editor, Elliot Waldman, to discuss the migrant detention camps, the controversy over their label and their place in history.

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Relevant Articles on WPR:
The U.S. Contributed to Central America’s Migrant Crisis. It Must Help Fix It
What Life Is Really Like on Mexico’s Migrant Trail
Cutting U.S. Aid to Central America Is No Way to Address Immigration
The World Has Lost the Will to Deal With the Worst Refugee Crisis Since World War II

Trend Lines is produced and edited by Peter Dörrie, a freelance journalist and analyst focusing on security and resource politics in Africa. You can follow him on Twitter at @peterdoerrie.

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