‘We Are Running Concentration Camps’: Images From El Paso Stir Outrage Over Migrant Treatment

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Above Photo: U.S. Border Patrol agents register migrants at a processing center in El Paso, Texas. (Photo: Mani Albrecht/U.S. Customs and Border Protection, via Getty Images)

The conditions in El Paso reminded some observers of the worst of humanity. 

Hundreds of migrants are being held by border agents in a fenced in encampment under a bridge in El Paso, leading to anger and accusations that the American government is holding people in “concentration camps.”

Images posted online by reporters and advocates painted a disturbing scene in the Texas city. Lines of migrants behind fencing, being processed by agents from U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP), walked into a camp area that appeared to be standing room only.

Reporters from The Washington Post caught pictures of crowds of migrants behind fencing.

The encampment, which is referred to by CBP as a “transitional shelter,” was set up in the last month according to reporting from Buzzfeed.

“The tent that is set up underneath the Paso Del Norte port of entry and adjacent to the Border Patrol’s Processing Facility is a transitional shelter,” a CBP spokesperson told the outlet. “Due to the large volume of apprehensions within the El Paso Station’s Area of Responsibility, the agency has undertaken additional measures to facilitate processing.”

Photos of the hundreds of people held at the site spread over social media on Wednesday. The publicity came alongside an appearance at El Paso by CBP commissioner Kevin McAleenan, who said that the border was “at its breaking point.”

“CBP is facing an unprecedented humanitarian and border security crisis all along our Southwest border,” said McAleenan, “and nowhere has that crisis manifested more acutely than here in El Paso.”

As a number of immigration advocates pointed out, that’s a hard sell in 2019 given the amount of border crossings two decades ago—crossings peaked at 1.6 million a year in 2000. The conditions in El Paso reminded some observers of the worst of humanity.

“This is a fucking concentration camp,” writer Lauren Hough said on Twitter. “We are running concentration camps.”

“It’s appalling,” said Women’s March communications director Sophie Ellman-Golan.

Meanwhile, according to reporting from The Texas Tribune, CBP pulled 750 agents from across Texas’s southern border’s ports of entry to El Paso to help with processing. There is no return date as yet for those agents, raising concerns that the border will become even more closed off in the near future.

  • herbdavis

    If we drastically increased work permits there would be many that would agree to come/work/return and be able to support their families. If we de-criminalized drugs and allowed legal drug use we would improve the quality of life for many and reduce the criminal enterprises that support the gangs. Or you come up with a solution!

  • Patsy Lowe

    I have a friend in Immigration Law and they are overwhelmed by, for instance, 100 thousand coming to L.A. in ONE MONTH. They are running out of resources, like money and places to house them. Trump cut their budget and they were already hurting. It is very depressing for the people working there.

  • mwildfire

    The main solution is what Obrador proposed–a major investment in undoing the conditions, originally imposed by US efforts for the most part, that lead people to leave their homes and head north into unwelcoming and strange conditions. Trash NAFTA entirely; stop dumping US corn in Mexico; stop interfering with Latin American elections and imposing rightwing governments dedicated to enriching the rich and impoverishing everyone else; yes, decriminalize drugs and put the money into rehab centers.

  • Jon

    There is no lack of constructive human ideas. The issue is that of political will to do what is decent and fair. You will not find much of that in DC now, especially among those in this administration.

  • rgaura

    Mexico is allowing refugees to stay in southern mexico, and helping them out, making them legal. If México can do it, with their limited resources, so can the US.