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This is Senator Warren’s eyewitness account of what she saw in the McAllen processing center. The words ‘processing center’ should set off bells and whistles.

Elizabeth Warren for Senate 2018
Sunday morning, I flew to McAllen, Texas to find out what’s really happening to immigrant families ripped apart by the Trump administration.

There’s one thing that’s very clear: The crisis at our border isn’t over.

I went straight from the airport to the McAllen Customs and Border Protection (CBP) processing center that is the epicenter of Donald Trump’s so-called “zero-tolerance” policy. This is where border patrol brings undocumented migrants for intake before they are either released, deported, turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), or, in the case of unaccompanied or separated children, placed in the custody of Health and Human Services.

From the outside, the CBP processing center looks like any other warehouse on a commercial street lined with warehouses. There’s no clue about the horrors inside.

Click 'Display Images' to see this photo!

Before we could get in, CBP insisted we had to watch a government propaganda video. There’s no other way to describe it – it’s like a movie trailer. It was full of dramatic narration about the “illegals” crossing our border, complete with gory pictures about the threats that these immigrants bring to the United States, from gangs to skin rashes. The star of the show is CBP, which, according to the video, has done a great job driving down the numbers.

Then an employee described what we were about to see. “They have separate pods. I’ll call them pods. I don’t really know how they name them.” Clearly they had gotten the memo not to call them what they are: cages. Every question I asked them had a complicated answer that led to two more questions – even the simple question about how long people were held there. “Nobody is here longer than 24 hours.” “Well, maybe 24-48 hours.” “72 hours max.” And “no children are separated out.” “Well, except older children.”

The warehouse is enormous, with a solid concrete floor and a high roof. It is filled with cages. Cages for men. Cages for women. Cages for mamas with babies. Cages for girls. Cages for boys.

The stench – body odor and fear – hits the second the door is opened. The first cages are full of men. The chain link is about 12-15 feet high, and the men are tightly packed. I don’t think they could all lie down at the same time. There’s a toilet at the back of the cage behind a half-wall, but no place to shower or wash up. One man kept shouting, “A shower, please. Just a shower.”

I asked the men held in cage after cage where they were from. Nearly all of them were from El Salvador, Guatemala, or Honduras.

Then I asked them how long they had been there – and the answers were all over the map, from a few days to nearly two weeks (72 hours max?). The CBP agents rushed to correct the detained men, claiming that their answers couldn’t be right. My immigration specialist on the trip who speaks fluent Spanish made sure the men understood that the question was, “How long have you been in the building?” Their answers didn’t change.

Cage after cage. Same questions, same answers.

Next we came into the area where the children were held. These cages were bigger with far more people. In the center of the cage, there’s a freestanding guard tower probably a story or story-and-a-half taller to look down over the children. The girls are held separately in their own large cage. The children told us that they had come to the United States with family and didn’t know where they had been taken. Eleven years old. Twelve. Locked in a cage with strangers. Many hadn’t talked to their mothers or fathers. They didn’t know where they were or what would happen to them next.

The children were quiet. Early afternoon, and they just sat. Some were on thin mats with foil blankets pulled over their heads. They had nothing – no books, no toys, no games. They looked shell shocked.

And then there were the large cages with women and small children. Women breast-feeding their young children.

When we went over to the mamas with babies, I asked them about why they had left their home countries. One young mother had a 4-year-old child. She said she had been threatened by the gangs in El Salvador. She had given a drink of water to a police officer, and the gang decided she must be in with the police. The longer she spoke, the more agitated she got – that she would never do that, that she understood the risk with the gangs, but that the gangs believed she did it. She sold everything she had and fled with her son to the United States.

One thing you won’t see much of in the CBP processing center? Fathers caged with their children. After pressing the CBP agents, they explained that men traveling with children are automatically released from the facility. They just don’t have the cages there to hold them. Women with small children, on the other hand, could be detained indefinitely. I pressed them on this again and again. The only answer: they claimed to be protecting “the safety of the mother and children.”

CBP said that fathers with children, pregnant women, mothers of children with special needs, and other “lucky ones” who are released from the processing center are sent over to Catholic Charities’ Humanitarian Respite Center for help. That was my next stop in McAllen. Sister Norma, her staff, and volunteers are truly doing God’s work. Catholic Charities provides food, a shower, clean clothes, and medicine to those who need it. The center tries to explain the complicated process to the people, and the volunteers help them get on a bus to a family member in the United States.

Click 'Display Images' to see this photo!

Sister Norma introduced me to a father and his teenage son from Honduras. The father said that a gang had been after his son, determined that the boy would join the gang. The only way for the boy to escape was to run. The man left his wife and four daughters in Honduras to bring his son to the United States. His only plan is to find work here to send money home to his family. His cousin lives in New Jersey, so CBP sent their paperwork to the local ICE center in New Jersey, and they would soon begin the long bus ride there.

Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley provides a lifesaving service to people of all faiths and backgrounds, but with a humanitarian crisis in their backyard, they’re clearly stretched as thin as it gets. With more money and volunteers, they would gladly help more people.

I asked Sister Norma about the women and babies who were in indefinite detention. She said her group would open their arms and take care of them, get them cleaned up and fed and on a bus to a family member – if only ICE would release them.

“This is a moral issue. We are all part of this human family,” they say.

Next, I met with some of the legal experts on the frontlines of this crisis – lawyers from the Texas Civil Rights Project, the Border Rights Center of the Texas ACLU, and the federal public defenders.

Click 'Display Images' to see this photo!

I gave them a rundown of everything I’d seen so far in McAllen, particularly when it comes to reuniting parents and children, and they raised some of my worst fears,

  • The Trump administration may be “reunifying” families, but their definition of a family is only a parent and a child. If, for example, a 9-year-old crosses with an 18-year-old sister – or an aunt or uncle, or a grandparent, or anyone who isn’t the child’s documented legal guardian – they are not counted as a family and they will be separated.
  • Mothers and children may be considered “together” if they’re held in the same gigantic facility, even if they’re locked in separate cages with no access to one another. (In the world of CBP and ICE, that’s how the 10-year-old girls locked in a giant cage are “not separated” from their mothers who are in cages elsewhere in the facility.)
  • In the process of “reunifying” families, the government may possibly count a family as reunited by sending the child to a distant relative they’ve never met – not their parents. Some relatives may be unwilling to claim these children because it would be inviting ICE to investigate their own families.
  • Parents are so desperate to be reunited with their children that they may be trading in their legal right to asylum.
  • The system for tracking separated families is virtually unknown, if one exists at all. One expert worries that for some families, just a simple photo may be all the documentation that the Department of Homeland Security and Department of Health and Human Services have to reunite them. (I sincerely hope that’s not true.)

The longer the day went on, the more questions I had about how the Trump administration plans to fix the crisis they’ve created at the border. So my last stop of the day was at the Port Isabel Detention Center, about an hour east of McAllen. It’s one of the largest detention facilities in Texas.

The Department of Homeland Security had released some details on its plan to reunify families. The release noted that Port Isabel will be the “primary family reunification and removal center for adults in their custody.”

Let’s be clear: Port Isabel isn’t a reunification center. It’s a detention center. A prison.

Click 'Display Images' to see this photo!

There’s no ambiguity on this point. I met with the head of the facility. He said several times that they had no space for children, no way to care for them, and no plans to bring any children to his locked-down complex. When I pressed on what was the plan for reunification of children with their parents, he speculated that HHS (the Department of Health and Human Services) would take the children somewhere, but it certainly wasn’t going to be to his facility. When I asked how long HHS would take, he speculated that it would be weeks, but he said that was up to them. He had his job to do: He would hold these mothers and fathers until he received orders to send them somewhere else. Period.

So let me say it again. This is a prison – not a reunification center.

We toured the center. It is huge – multiple buildings isolated on a sun-baked expanse of land far from any town. We didn’t go to the men’s area, but the women are held in a large bunk-bed facility with a concrete outdoor exercise area. It’s locked, double-locked, and triple locked. Tall fences topped with razor wire are everywhere, each backed up by a second row of fences also topped with razor wire.

An ICE official brought in a group of nine detained mothers who had volunteered to speak to us. I don’t believe that ICE cherry-picked these women for the meeting, because everything they told me was horrifying.

Each mother told us her own story about crossing the border, being taken to a processing center, and the point that they were separated from their child or children. In every case, the government had lied to them about where their children were being taken. In every case, save one, no mother had spoken to her child in the days since the separation. And in every case, no mother knew where her child was.

At the time of separation, most of the mothers were told their children would be back. One woman had been held at “the icebox,” a center that has earned its nickname for being extremely cold. When the agent came to take her child, she was told that it was just too cold for the child in the center, and that they were just going to keep the child warm until she was transferred. That was mid-June. She hasn’t seen her child since.

One mother had been detained with her child. They were sleeping together on the floor of one of the cages, when, at 3:00am, the guards took her away. She last saw her 7-year-old son sleeping on the floor. She cried over and over, “I never got to say goodbye. I never got to say goodbye.” That was early-June, and she hasn’t seen him since.

Even though the CBP officials at the processing center told me that mothers with children that have special needs would be released, one of the mothers I spoke with had been separated from her special needs child. She talked about her child who doesn’t have properly formed legs and feet and walks with great difficulty. One of the mothers spoke of another mother in the facility who is very worried because her separated child is deaf and doesn’t speak at all.

The women I met were traumatized, weeping, and begging for help. They don’t understand what is happening to them – and they’re begging to be reunited with their kids.

Detainees can pay to make phone calls, but all of their possessions are taken from them at the processing center. The only way they can get money for a call is for someone to put money on their accounts. I asked if people or charities could donate money so that they’d be able to make phone calls to their family or lawyers, but they said no – a donor would need the individual ID number for every person detained at the center, and ICE obviously isn’t going to release that information.

Three young lawyers were at Port Isabel at the same time we were. The lawyers told us that their clients – the people they’ve spoken to in the detention center – have strong and credible cases for asylum. But the entire process for being granted asylum depends on one phone call with an immigration official where they make the case for why they should be allowed to stay. One of the first questions a mother will be asked is, “Have you been separated from a child?” For some of the women, just asking that question makes them fall apart and weep.

The lawyers are worried that these women are in such a fragile and fractured state, they’re in no shape to make the kind of detailed, credible case needed for themselves or their children. They had no chance in our system because they’ve lost their children and desperately want them back.

We stayed inside at Port Isabel for more than two hours – much longer than the 45 minutes we had been promised. When I finally went to bed that night, I thought about something the mothers had told me – something that will likely haunt me for a long time.

The mothers say that they can hear babies cry at night.

This isn’t about politics. This isn’t about Democrats or Republicans. This is about human beings. Children held in cages today. Babies scattered all over this country. And mamas who, in the dark of night, hear them cry.

I’m still working through everything I saw, but I wanted you to know the full story. The fight for these children and families isn’t over – not by a long shot.

Thanks for being a part of this,

Elizabeth

P.S. Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley’s Humanitarian Respite Center provides food, clothing, medicine, diapers, and other basic supplies for immigrant families released by Customs & Border Protection. They need our support to help more children and families. Please donate now to help their emergency relief efforts at the border.

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Endlessly, George Lakoff has tried to pound into the liberal mind the importance of framing. In politics, he who creates the frame wins.

What frame has Donald Trump created for himself and sold to his base? He is the champion of the “forgotten,” the new majority minority. He is the embodiment of anti-establishment that believes all progress in the liberal sense is a zero-sum game, that every right gained at the margins diminishes the rights held at the center.

His base likes his boisterous, rude, crude insults and threats. He wants to be seen as tearing down the fabric of a society that since FDR has successfully become increasingly inclusive. He sold himself to them as a dealmaker, one that will scrap all the “bad deals” (i.e. all deals ever made by Democratic administrations) in favor of new, “better” deals. He is the dealbreaker, and they cheer him on as he shatters every alliance.

It is important that the free press portray accurately what actually transpires when Trump is confronted by longstanding allies and the deals and treaties we have in place with those parties. It is disconcerting that both the New York Times and The Daily Beast chose to run headers that indicate that they have bought into Trump’s self-portrayal as deal-buster at this weekend’s G7.

The reason I focus on headers is because they often are all the reader will see of an article. In the age of information overload, people scanning headers on a newsfeed will click into a few articles at best, but all the headers that reader sees go into the “wet cement.” The impression is there.

Here are two headers that give a false impression of the effect of Trump’s behavior on the G7 proceedings.

This from The New York Times on June 9.

Trump Shakes Up World Stage in Break With U.S. Allies
By PETER BAKER

At a moment of tumult over trade and nuclear security, President Trump is making friends with America’s enemies and enemies out of America’s friends.

This header portrays Trump exactly as he wants to be seen. He has not shaken up anything. He would like to think he did, but Trudeau, Macron, and Merkel stabilize what he would like to upset. I am not linking to the story. Just sharing the header and lede that came in the morning email. I have no problem with the lede, but that header…. nuh-unh.

This from The Daily Beast June 10.

Trump Upends G7 With ‘Fits of Anger’ at Trudeau
The president ignites a new personal rivalry with the Canadian leader even as he sets off to make nice with North Korea.

Here’s another header that caters exactly to the image Trump wants to present of himself. Again, not linking to the article. This is about the header. It sets the stage. That is what creates the impression. In fact Trump has neither shaken up nor upended anything. The stabilizing influences, Merkel, Marcon, and Trudeau, prevailed. Trump is the one who is isolated (and thereby isolated us).

The true leaders, Merkel, Macron, and Trudeau, made it clear that they and their constituents could easily move forward as a G6 without the United States. Certainly other big economies like India and Brazil might be ripe for membership. Trump, on the other hand, has indicated a preference to go forward as a G2 with Russia.

The toddler with the hammer has not shattered anything except the trust of our longtime allies – and that should be enough to set off bells and whistles. Tantrums are not manifestations of power. They are warning signs of instability. Trump has made us the dispensable nation.

The media should stop catering to the image Trump wants to create and present the real picture. The rage and chaos he seeks to portray feed his base. That, to them, is “winning.” Stop writing headers that create the impression that this behavior is effective. It is destructive. It is dangerous.

Some of the damage is rolling in. Read Krugman’s thread.

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When you live in a foreign country and have no voting rights in the United States, this is an impudent lie!

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Madeleine Albright served as secretary of state under President Clinton from 1997-2001. Timothy Greenfield Sanders/Harper Collins

Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright describes herself as an “optimist who worries a lot.” And lately, it seems, there has been much to worry about.

Albright’s new book, Fascism: A Warning, starts by describing how Hitler and Mussolini came to power in the 20th century, then warns about today’s authoritarian rulers in Eastern Europe, North Korea, Turkey and Russia.

Albright, who was born in Czechoslovakia and fled with her family after the Nazis occupied the country in 1939, notes that the United States has traditionally been viewed as a nation that opposes authoritarianism and supports democratic principles and human rights, but that perception is changing — in part because of President Trump.

While Albright does not call Trump a fascist, she says that he is “the most anti-democratic leader that I have studied in American history.”

“We’re not fulfilling the role that we’re supposed to,” she says of the United States today. “I believe very much that democracy in the United States is resilient [and] that people can be skeptical about things that are going on, but I really am afraid that we are taking things for granted.”

Interview Highlights >>>>

Amy Siskind is tirelessly trying to make sure we do not ignore the subtle and not-so-subtle changes we are seeing.

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It is not the first time I have spotlighted her.


Since 1851, obituaries in The New York Times have been dominated by white men. Now, we’re adding the stories of remarkable women.

A century before the dawn of the computer age, Ada Lovelace imagined the modern-day, general-purpose computer. It could be programmed to follow instructions, she wrote in 1843. It could not just calculate but also create, as it “weaves algebraic patterns just as the Jacquard loom weaves flowers and leaves.”

The computer she was writing about, the British inventor Charles Babbage’s Analytical Engine, was never built. But her writings about computing have earned Lovelace — who died of uterine cancer in 1852 at age 36 — recognition as the first computer programmer.


Obituary writing is more about life than death: the last word, a testament to a human contribution.

Yet who gets remembered — and how — inherently involves judgment. To look back at the obituary archives can, therefore, be a stark lesson in how society valued various achievements and achievers.

Since 1851, The New York Times has published thousands of obituaries: of heads of state, opera singers, the inventor of Stove Top stuffing and the namer of the Slinky. The vast majority chronicled the lives of men, mostly white ones; even in the last two years, just over one in five of our subjects were female.

Charlotte Brontë wrote “Jane Eyre”; Emily Warren Roebling oversaw construction of the Brooklyn Bridge when her husband fell ill; Madhubala transfixed Bollywood; Ida B. Wells campaigned against lynching. Yet all of their deaths went unremarked in our pages, until now.

Below you’ll find obituaries for these and others who left indelible marks but were nonetheless overlooked. We’ll be adding to this collection each week, as Overlooked becomes a regular feature in the obituaries section, and expanding our lens beyond women.

You can use this form to nominate candidates for future “Overlooked” obits. Read an essay from our obituaries editor about how he approaches subjects and learn more about how the project came to be.

Read more >>>>

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Dear Alexi Frest,

You have succeeded. It must feel great! The power you have accrued is awesome. Now you administer Hillary’s Resistance with 165K followers (if they are real) and are able to ban from that page genuine American Hillary supporters who have spent time, money, and energy over decades in support of Hillary Clinton. Years, I should note, when you did not even acknowledge on your Facebook page (which does not identify your location) that HRC even existed. Where was your support of her in 2008? Or when she was Secretary of State?  I scrolled back. It is not there. You discovered Hillary Clinton in 2015. I’ll just leave that there.

Now you are an administrator at Hillary’s Resistance. That must be such a triumph for you! To be able to squash impertinent folks like my friends and me as if we were bugs when we question your qualifications to be an administrator there must give you such satisfaction. Wow. Heady. Isn’t it?

You must be elated!  You finally hit the big time!  You can ban anyone who questions your nationality and agenda, which some of us believe to be the division of the Democratic party in the United States. Each of us who has questioned your background and motives has been summarily dismissed. Banned.

But enough about us and our grievances.

What about your one-person campaign? You posted this.

Who authorized you, sitting there in Budapest without even a visa to enter this country, to run a presidential campaign here?

Alexi Frest

All my friends say that if Hillary runs again, they will support her, and I am so delighted to hear them, but it works the other way around: if WE support #HER, she will run again, the dutiful, caring mother she is. We need to stand beside #Hillary, she is our most popular candidate. She has been Most Admired Woman in America for 16 consecutive years, her book tour was a smash hit like a Beyoncé or Katy Perry tour, and wherever she appears, she is celebrated like the rock star who she is. Last time, this Monday, when Mama turned up in a restaurant and received a standing ovation. Which other candidate receives this enthusiastic outpour of love? #Hillary2020

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Maybe this post, also at Hillary’s Resistance, should have “woke” you.

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Hillary has passed the torch. We have new leaders.

Maybe when you no longer need a “mama” you can grow up to be like Emma Gonzalez  – who is about half your age. When you grow up. When you mature. When you no longer need a mama.

Americans are not infantile. Even when they are very young, they do not perceive political figures as surrogate parents.

Watch this little girl talking to and and about Donald Trump. This is how Americans, even from an early age, speak to political figures.

Hillary’s agenda is to get qualified Democrats to run for the changes she proposed. More than once she has affirmed that she will not run again.

Grow up!  Stop demanding that a grandmother that you call “mama” do the job that people half your age have stepped up to do.

Emma is not calling anyone “mama.” Hillary supports her and her friends. Emma has 600K followers on Twitter at last count. I think that counts as a larger “reach” (your word  – to me) than yours at Hillary’s Resistance.

This country turned a corner last week just like we did on 9/11/2001. There is a pre-9/11 USA and post 9/11 USA.

Now there is a pre-Parkland USA and a post-Parkland USA. You are stuck in pre-Parkland USA calling Hillary “mama.” Like a baby! Meanwhile, kids half your age and younger are talking to all of us as adults.

The kids have taken over the fight, and they are not calling anybody “mama.” They are telling us what to do, and we are doing it. They have strategies.

You are supposed to be an adult and are acting infantile while the kids here have grown up fast over a few weeks and are facing down the adults who failed them. They have plans. They have ideas.

Aspire to be like Emma Gonzalez. Wake up. Grow up. You are twice her age and speak like a helpless infant. “Mama come save us!”

What does Hillary endorse? Run for something. These kids can, and I bet they will.

Stop begging Hillary to run. YOU do it!

Oh, wait! You can’t run here. You aren’t here, and you aren’t even American! That’s your big secret.

Get out of U.S. politics.

We know who our new leaders are. You are not one of them.

Admit your identity to your Facebook friends before someone more powerful and influential than I does. That is not a threat. It is an eventuality. You are breaking the law. You can fix that now by admitting the truth on Facebook.

Best wishes for Hungary,

The authentic American Hillary supporters

P.S. REAL Hillary supporters who put in time, sweat, and tears, are on the campaign rosters (as you are not), and have been disenfranchised by you at Hillary’s Resistance. I never trusted the Bros to be vetting very carefully. Just goes to show that we cannot trust the men – even the ones who appear trustworthy. Not a new lesson. Even throughout the campaign, I did not trust them. I see now that I was correct.

P.P.S. It’s all moot anyway. There will not be another Hillary campaign, and I will not need all these connections. So who cares? Except that you, Alexi, will not accept any other candidate in 2020. And you will do your best to divide the Dems so Trump can win another term. I know your game. Wow! You are not even American and have never been here. SMH. Your current path is insidious. Not to be trusted.

 

 

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Rarely does an artist have the opportunity to recreate a magical moment. Patti LuPone mesmerized Grammy viewers in 1981. Last night, she did it again – in the original key!  Brava! Love you so much, Patti!

This made me snicker.

She was trending on Twitter into early morning as was #Evita! Hope you read all these tweets in the morning, Patti! You rule!

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