Thursday evening, Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) compared U.S. Customs and Border Protection confiscating items from detained immigrants crossing the border to images from Auschwitz. The pictures in the story Speier cited were from an artist’s exhibit using items confiscated from 2007 to 2014, mostly under the Obama administration.
“CBP takes away rosaries, shoes, wallets and toothbrushes from detained immigrants; what they call “non-essential” personal property,” Speier tweeted. “The images in these photos shockingly resemble the shoes collected from Auschwitz – and it’s revolting and chilling.”
CBP takes away rosaries, shoes, wallets and toothbrushes from detained immigrants; what they call “non-essential” personal property. The images in these photos shockingly resemble the shoes collected from Auschwitz – and it’s revolting and chilling. https://t.co/DgX1LbACKK pic.twitter.com/YTSyHa0FiU— Jackie Speier (@RepSpeier) June 22, 2018
The New Yorker article linked in Speier’s tweet is about Tom Kiefer, a janitor with CBP from 2003-2014, who started taking items confiscated from immigrants crossing the border for his art project “El Sueño Americano” in 2007.
In 2014—after more than a decade working with C.B.P., and after seven years of sneaking out the trash—Kiefer quit his job to work on “El Sueño Americano” full-time. One day in Ajo, he ran into a secretary from his old job: the C.B.P. agents, she told him, were “furious” that he’d spent his on-the-clock time “stealing” government property for a private project. Working in his studio today—picking the next set of objects to photograph, arranging them just so—he thinks about his old colleagues at the border. Some were nice people, as far as he could tell; others, he felt sure, would be taking Trump’s anti-immigrant invective as license for new cruelties.
Many in the media have also tried to tie the Trump administration's immigration policies to Nazi imagery.