On Friday’s “MSNBC Live with Stephanie Ruhle,” former Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele and former Obama 2012 deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter compared the Trump administration’s detention centers for illegal immigrant children to Nazi concentration camps. Steele also ominously warned viewers that their “kids could be next” to be placed in such concentration camps.
The segment in question was caught and transcribed by NewsBusters [emphasis mine]:
CUTTER: We are, or used to be, America’s greatest democracy. We can’t find a solution to this problem without harming children? Without putting them into concentration camps?
STEELE: And I would even say, Stephanie, to that point, it’s not even an interpretation of the law, it is a policy.
RUHLE: A new policy.
STEELE: And a policy that has been invoked by the President of the United States and dictated to his attorney general, who goes out and quotes the Bible – by the way, a passage that was used to justify slavery in this country – to justify encamping children. I call this a concentration camp for kids because that’s exactly what it’s turning out to. When you give kids 22 hours of lockup time and two hours of air time, what else can it be? And if this is where this country is going, the American people need to wake up and pay attention. Because your kids could be next.
Earlier in the day on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” co-host Joe Scarborough also compared the child detention centers to concentration camps. Apparently based on a public defender’s claim that his illegal immigrant child clients were being led away from their alleged parents with promises of being given a bath, Scarborough remarked that federal agents were akin to Nazi camp guards leading Jews to “showers” to be gassed to death:
“I know children are being marched away to showers. I know they’re being marched away to showers. Are there -- being told they are just like the Nazis and said that they were taking people to showers and then they never came back.”
The public defender’s claim that appears to have informed Scarborough’s comment comes from this report in the Boston Globe:
A public defender in McAllen says some migrants are told their kids are going to be taken away briefly to bathe, and then it dawns on them hours later they aren't coming back— Liz Goodwin (@lizcgoodwin) June 10, 2018
In reality, the illegal alien detention centers do not resemble Nazi concentration camps at all. In fact, when reporters from CNN toured one such facility for children located in Texas, instead of finding barbed wire fences or prisoners being worked to death, gassed, or shot in the back of the head, they discovered kids watching soccer, playing video games on big flat-screen TVs, and participating in tai chi classes:
The massive shelter retains a warehouse vibe -- noisy but highly organized, with scores of staffers leading skeins of boys to various activities. In recreation rooms, some boys watched a soccer match on TV; some took part in a tai chi class; others played pool or foosball (in one case with a cue ball). Still others sat in classrooms. Because of the crowding, the boys attend school in six-hour morning or afternoon shifts, five days a week. The bedrooms reporters were shown seemed antiseptically clean.
Though they have a variety of scheduled activities to keep them busy, the boys spend almost all their time indoors at the former superstore, aside from one hour a day outside for PE and another hour of free time they can spend on the basketball courts or soccer fields adjacent to the shelter building. Many of the boys stared at the visitors with obvious curiosity, greeting reporters with "Hola" or "Buenas tardes" as they walked by.
CNN also reported that kids are not kept in the detention center indefinitely. In fact, they usually stay there for only about two months until federal immigration officials either reunite the children with their real parents or other relatives in the United States or deport the kids back to their home countries.
As an alternative, perhaps Steele, Cutter, et al. would prefer if we go back to putting illegal immigrant children in cages and having them sleep on the floor? But then again, what kind of monster would do such a thing?