Tsuru for Solidarity Statement on Carrizo Springs Child Detention Facility
Tsuru for Solidarity demands that the Biden administration take immediate, concrete steps to end child and family detention in all its forms. We are gravely concerned by the Biden administration’s expansion of child detention through the reopening of the Trump administration’s Carrizo Springs “influx” facility. Carrizo Springs — which can already detain up to 700 children, and an official statement suggests could grow even further — is industrial-scale secure detention. Such detention is inherently traumatizing for children, no matter how clean it is or how many recreation activities the authorities may schedule inside. Detention sites like Carrizo Springs are not child-friendly shelters and should not exist in the first place.
As Japanese Americans, we are all too familiar with the federal government offering assurances that a detention site is humane, that the people inside are cheerful, and that there is nothing for the public to worry about. In 1944, the federal government published a propaganda film called “A Challenge to Democracy” that tried to whitewash conditions inside the prison camps where that government held our families during World War II. And when we see migrant children incarcerated today — whether in cages or in allegedly humane mass detention camps — we remember the suffering of our own community’s children.
This history is why the Biden administration’s reassurances provide no comfort to us. As the Biden administration knows, when migrant children cannot be immediately reunited with their families, the appropriate and humane setting is a small-scale, home-like environment where they receive care and supervision from licensed child welfare professionals.
The reopening of Carrizo Springs cannot be the opening phase of a longer-term policy of mass detention of children. We are alarmed at the lack of transparency about the administration’s future plans — and the Japanese American community will not stand by silently if we see history repeating itself. We demand greater transparency from the Biden administration for the public to verify that this use of mass detention is a temporary aberration, that children will be held there for as brief a period as possible, and that for any short period in which Carrizo Springs remains open, officials are doing everything possible to mitigate the harms of being held there. President Biden’s election represented the hopes of Americans who want a country without child and family detention. We call on him now to enact visionary changes to this broken system instead of repeating history.