Things That Matter

Historians And AOC Agree That Detention Centers Look Like Concentration Camps But Conservatives Don’t Want To Hear It

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In the years since Donald Trump took up the role of president of the United States, the front pages of newspapers and media sites have depicted images of starving children behind bars and parents being separated and detained from their infants. Social scientists and historians specializing in internment camps and have said that today’s U.S. detention centers look pretty similar to the dawn of earlier historical atrocities and yet the question of what these images evoke are still being questioned.

Conservatives aren’t happy with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez once again after the novice representative for New York’s 14th congressional district likened Trump’s actions to the early phases of the Holocaust.

During a recent streaming on Instagram Live, Ocasio-Cortez said that “The United States is running concentration camps on our southern border.”

“The United States is running concentration camps on our southern border, and that is exactly what they are — they are concentration camps,” Ocasio-Cortez said to an Instagram Live audience on Monday. “And if that doesn’t bother you … I want to talk to the people that are concerned enough with humanity to say that we should not, that ‘never again’ means something… The fact that concentration camps are now an institutionalized practice in the home of the free is extraordinarily disturbing, and we need to do something about it.” The phrase “never again” has become used by Jewish people when talking about the Holocaust.

During her stream, Ocasio-Cortez also pointed to the thousands of migrant children were being held in facilities that had been used to detain Japanese Americans during World War II. 

Ocasio-Cortez’s reference relates to last week when the Department of Health and Human Services, which is meant to care for unaccompanied migrant children, announced that it would begin to use Fort Sill Army Base, located in Oklahoma, to hold minors. The base was formerly an internment camp for Japanese Americans during World War II. It was also used previously by the Obama administration as a base for detaining migrant children.

Ocasio- Cortez referred said that how we proceed in addressing the current “crisis” as a country will work as a reflection as to whether or not we are losing our principles and values to an “authoritarian and fascist presidency.”

“I don’t use those words lightly. I don’t use those words to just throw bombs. I use that word because that is what an administration that creates concentration camps is,” Ocasio- Cortez said. “A presidency that creates concentration camps is fascist, and it’s very difficult to say that, because it is very difficult to accept the fact that that is how bad things have gotten, but that is how bad things have gotten.”

In response, Rep. Liz Cheney, the No. 3 Republican in the House, accused the democrat of disrespecting the Jewish people killed during the Holocaust.

“Please @AOC do us all a favor and spend just a few minutes learning some actual history. 6 million Jews were exterminated in the Holocaust. You demean their memory and disgrace yourself with comments like this,” the Wyoming Republican tweeted.

Ocasio-Cortez quickly responded “Hey Rep. Cheney, since you’re so eager to ‘educate me,’ I’m curious: What do YOU call building mass camps of people being detained without a trial? How would you dress up DHS’s mass separation of thousands children at the border from their parents?”

ICE Has Made It Clear That The Cruelty In Its Policies Is The Point, Meanwhile An 8th Person Has Died In Their Custody

Things That Matter

ICE Has Made It Clear That The Cruelty In Its Policies Is The Point, Meanwhile An 8th Person Has Died In Their Custody

DHS / Public Domain

As the influx of undocumented immigrants continues to surge, there’s a great distinction that should be made about this group. There are currently hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants that are being detained in detention centers across the United States. There are also thousands of undocumented immigrants that are currently seeking asylum. Some are in the U.S. and others are waiting in Mexico under the Trump’s Administration “Remain in Mexico” policy.

So, understanding that there are undocumented immigrants both in the U.S. and in Mexico, the ones that are technically in the custody of the U.S. officials are the ones in this country and not a foreign one. We point this out in order for readers to understand the fatal casualties that occur in the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and others that occur on the border (including those that die in the Rio Grande), and people that die or go missing in Mexico. The records for all of these deaths are separate. 

ICE is reporting that a 37-year-old undocumented man from Mexico died in their custody. He is the eighth person to die in ICE custody. 

According to a press release statement by ICE, Roberto Rodriguez-Espinoza was pronounced dead by medical staff at Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital in Winfield, Illinois on Sept. 10 at 9:35 p.m. The doctor that was treating Rodriguez-Espinoza said the preliminary cause of death as a subdural hematoma. A subdural hematoma “is a collection of blood outside the brain,” according to WebMD. “Subdural hematomas are usually caused by severe head injuries.”

Despite the preliminary cause of death, ICE is reporting that his death was caused by his alcoholism.

Here’s the ICE report: 

“On the day of his arrest, during his intake screening, Rodriguez-Espinoza admitted to daily consumption of alcohol. On Sept. 7, facility staff observed Rodriguez-Espinoza acting confused and the facility’s physician ordered Rodriguez-Espinoza transported to the Northwestern Medicine Woodstock Hospital emergency room in Woodstock, Illinois, for further evaluation due to his confusion and history of alcohol consumption. On Sept. 8, the hospital transferred him via ambulance to Northwestern Medicine Huntley Hospital, in Huntley, Illinois, where he was diagnosed with a brain hemorrhage. He was then transferred to Central DuPage Hospital for a neurosurgery consult. Rodriguez-Espinoza failed to respond during a neurological exam performed upon arrival at Central DuPage and the attending neurosurgeon advised that Rodriguez-Espinoza was unlikely to survive the surgery.” 

ICE is also reporting that Rodriguez-Espinoza was allegedly a member of the Latin Kings gang. 

According to Latino USA, the Latin Kings gang first began in Chicago back in the 1950s. Other outlets report that the Latin Kings have gang members situated all over the country, and elsewhere. It is unclear whether Rodriguez-Espinoza was actually affiliated with that gang, but ICE is reporting that he had two convictions, one in 2016 on a burglary conviction and another in 2008 and was charged with a theft conviction. “ICE contacted the Mexican Consulate to inform them of Rodriguez-Espinoza’s medical status and to request assistance locating his next of kin. Mexican Consular officials subsequently advised that Rodriguez-Espinoza had no known next of kin.”

ICE is also stating that 8 deaths within the fiscal year (Oct. 2018-present) is not many compared to the number of detainees they have.

Courtesy of  U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

“On an annual basis, anywhere from 300,000 to 500,000 individuals are processed into ICE custody, many of whom have never had regular healthcare and suffer from severe acute and chronic medical conditions,” ICE stated. “The following chart [pictured above] shows that ICE is at a 6 year low regarding deaths on custody and the trend has been declining since 2004.”

However, as we previously noted in this article, ICE is not counting the overall number of undocumented deaths that occur at the border, or asylum seekers, or that of children. 

report that is public information on the ICE website shows six deaths since October. That number does not include the death of Rodriguez-Espinoza or that of Pedro Arriago-Santoya, who died on July 21 at the Stewart Detention Facility in Lumpkin, Georgia. ICE reports that Arriago-Santoya died of “cardio-pulmonary arrest secondary to multi-organ system failure, endocarditis, dilated cardiomyopathy with a low ejection fraction and respiratory failure.” 

Furthermore, an NBC News report from June shows that 24 undocumented immigrants died while in ICE Custody. So while ICE can say that this latest death is only the eighth death this fiscal year in ICE custody, that number is actually higher. 

ICE reports that they treat each person with the medical treatment needed and that each detainee has medical help available to them 24 hours a day. “Comprehensive medical care is provided to all individuals in ICE custody. Staffing for detainees includes registered nurses and licensed practical nurses, licensed mental health providers, mid-level providers like physician assistants and nurse practitioners, and a physician.”

READ: A New Documentary Is Showing An Untold And Heartbreaking Side Of The Undocumented Life In The US

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Made A Student Loan Payment During Meeting To Prove A Point About Corruption

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Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Made A Student Loan Payment During Meeting To Prove A Point About Corruption

One of the least talked about topics on the realm of American politics has to be the corruption of financial student loan institutions. The immigration crisis, climate change, and even healthcare are discussed more extensively, but when it comes to education and the high cost of college, the voices aren’t enough. However, it should be known that in the United States, the student loan debt is currently at $1.5 trillion. More than 44 million people are drowning in student loan debt, and one of them is a United States representative. 

During a committee meeting, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez stated that she made a student loan payment, but she wasn’t slacking off.

Rep. Ocasio-Cortez was in the middle of a House Financial Services Committee hearing and said — to make a very valid point — that she had made a roughly $200 payment on the remainder of her student loan, which is now more than $19,000.

“I literally made a student loan payment while I was sitting here at this chair, and I looked at my balance, and it was $20,237.16,” Rep. Ocasio-Cortez said during the hearing. “I just made a payment that took me down to $19,000 so I feel really accomplished right now.”

The youngest lawmaker in the House of Congress wanted to show the corruption by student loan institutions and how several of those companies have ties to United States Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos. She added that she feels strongly against the Republicans view on this topic, saying, “I’m hearing people on this committee say it’s not our job. This is our job.” 

Rep. Ocasio-Cortez isn’t the only lawmaker making student loan payments. There are 70 other members of congress that are still paying off their student loans.

The New York Post is reporting that “70 members of Congress who are still paying off student loans for themselves or a dependent — with an average debt burden of $37,000. Eight lawmakers are said to have more than $100,000 in debt.”

This is not the first time, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez has spoken out about the student loans that paid for her college education at Boston University. Back in June, on the steps of Capitol Hill, she said this fight is personal for her“It was literally easier for me to become the youngest woman elected to Congress than it is to pay off my student loan debt.”

People who are making monthly payments to their student loans, on average, contribute about $300 a month, which is not enough if they owe at least $35,000. According to a report by CNBC, “About one in four Americans has student loan debt, with the average balance just over $37,000. The average student loan payment is $393 a month, which is almost 20 percent of the typical American’s monthly household income.”

Student loan debt is one of the contributing factors as to why people are postponing getting married, starting a family, and purchasing a home. They simply cannot afford to get into the next chapter in their life because they’re drowning in debt.

That is why Rep. Ocasio-Cortez and other politicians are fighting to forgive student loan debt and make college tuition-free.

Some may say people should have to pay their own debt, but others such as presidential candidates Sen. Bernie Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren. Like Rep. Ocasio-Cortez, Sanders said that millennials shouldn’t have to suffer at the hands of corrupt student loan institutions.

“It is time to end the absurdity of sentencing an entire generation—the millennial generation—to a lifetime of debt for the ‘crime’ of doing the right thing: getting a college education,” Sanders wrote in Fortune

Furthermore, Sanders and the rest of the Democratic presidential candidates are also running on a promise to make college tuition-free, mainly state schools. New Mexico just announced they are offering free college education for state universities. Other states that are now offering a free college education includes Oregon, Nevada, Arkansas, New Jersey, Maryland, Tennessee, New York, Rhode Island, Delaware, Kentucky, and Indiana.

“This program is an absolute game-changer for New Mexico,” Governor Lujan Grisham said in a statement, according to the New York Times. “In the long run, we’ll see improved economic growth, improved outcomes for New Mexican workers and families and parents.”

READ: It Is So Hard To Pay Back Student Loan Debts In The US That American Borrows Are Fleeing To Live Abroad To Avoid Paying