The Legacy & Secrecy of Detention Centers

Recent footage and detailed stories released this past week from detention centers near the Texas-Mexico border sent the media into conflicting criticisms, theories and opinions detailing the causes and potential effects of secretive ‘tent cities.’  

Earlier this week, it was revealed that the US Navy would be implementing detention centers throughout the United States in response to Trump’s ‘zero tolerance’ policy that punishes anyone found crossing the Mexican-American border illegally. According to the policy, families and minors can be separated from one another and the US military has extended oversight into placing these children into government care.  

Since October 1, 2017, at least 9,000 family members were seperated from one another at the border and over 2700 children have been separated from their parents upon coming to the United States. These children are living in close quarters with hundreds of bedrooms lacking walls and surrounded by cages. Since then, at least 11,000 children have been placed in 100 different shelters across 17 states.

Fox and Friends has defended the use of chain link fences to detain immigrant children and has likened the facilities to “summer camps.” But are these detention centers really summer camps for young immigrant children, are these facilities’ conditions suggestive of a larger immigration forthcoming, a step towards concentration camps?

In their basic definition, the border centers along the Mexican-American border are concentration camps. The term is often defined as, “a camp where persons are confined, usually without hearings and typically under harsh conditions, often as a result of their membership in a group the government has identified as dangerous or undesirable.”

The separation of families from one another and the inhumane and undesirable conditions for those living in border camps in tent city are indicative of what some may call concentration camps, which is why the bold claims by both the liberal and conservative media this past week have a sound level to them that must be further examine.

With these recurring themes of temporary placement within a minority group the media is right to compare the border facilities to concentration camps, but should be wary of using the two synonymously.


The problem is that references to concentration camps are often associated with those used in Nazi Germany. This era in Germany is just one example, but is the most extreme, and thus links concentration camps with genocide and mass killing.    

The image of a concentration camp as places of extreme labor and death became prominent during World War II, when Nazi Germany subjected millions of Jews, along with other minorities, to hard labor, experimentation and in many cases, death.  

But instances of of concentration camps emerged almost half a century before in South Africa during the Second Boer War in 1900. The British constructed camps to aid displaced civilian families affected by the war, but ultimately became a place of failing infrastructure and disease. They also became somewhere for the British to further push their powerful agenda and separate women and children from their families.

Recent news coverage of facilities at the Texas border resemble these conditions in a number of ways: from the poorly constructed fenced in living spaces to families separated from one another.

Of the types of concentration camps found throughout Nazi Germany, two in particular are particularly similar to the facilities and situation seen in recent weeks:

State camps acted as prototypes for future concentration camps and were organized through reigning members of the Nazi government party. Collection and Transit Camps were recognized as sites in which inmates were collected and temporarily held.

Still, the media is not wrong in suggesting there are elements that resemble such locations.

What the media should do now, as an informer, is ensure that fair reportage and public awareness is spread in coming weeks. Whether or not these facilities can be referred to as concentration camps is rather up to the audience until further developments prove otherwise.

Rather than referring to these locations as ‘summer camps’ or ‘concentration camps,’ they should be reported on as areas in which undocumented immigrants, regardless of criminal status, are being held under questionable conditions with an air of secrecy.

It is vital for reportage on the accounts of journalists, the press and the media to persist until further developments arise.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.