President Donald Trump in the East Room of the White House on June 18, 2018
Photo: Getty

The United States currently has over 100 concentration camps along the U.S.-Mexico border. The facilities have become controversial due to the Trump regime’s policy of separating migrant children from their parents—a policy that health care professionals explicitly call child abuse. And now Wikipedia, the user-edited online encyclopedia, has unceremoniously added this shameful chapter of American history to its lists of concentration camps.

Wikipedia’s list of concentration and internment camps is filled with history’s most horrendous detentions. The list covers injustices from around the globe, including the gulags of the Soviet Union, the British military’s South African camps during the Boer War, and America’s internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II. But the latest addition is happening in real time, a benefit of having an online encyclopedia that can be changed quickly as events unfold.

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That new Wikipedia addition is America’s immigrant concentration camps, an ongoing crisis created at the highest levels of American government, including President Donald Trump, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and Homeland Security secretary Kirstjen Nielsen. The Trump regime has at times denied that the policy of separating children in these camps even exists. But the camps and the Trump regime’s policies of systematic child abuse are very real.

The Wikipedia entry currently reads:

In May of 2018, under the direction of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the U.S. acted in accordance with a 2016 Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision which ruled that child migrants who came to the border with parents and were held in custody must be released. However, the decision did not state parents must be released and thus the children are held in custody until they can be placed with extended family members. US officials began forcibly separating children and parents arriving at the US border. This included some seeking asylum from violence in their home countries, however, since up to 11,000 children are brought in to the U.S. each year by child sex traffickers, the identities are verified before release to extended family custody. Under this policy, nearly 2000 children were taken from their parents and placed in “detention centers.” [189] These centers, have been described by those in opposition to the policy as “concentration camps” [190]. The centers had previously been cited by Texas officials for more than 150 health violations. [191]

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In light of everything that’s happening, the text is a surprisingly unbiased entry that’s clearly presenting information without taking sides. But history will probably be less kind as people of the future look at the kids in cages and hear the cries of children who just want their mom or dad.

Propaganda photo released by U.S. Customs and Border Protection on June 18, 2018. Journalists have not been allowed to take photos or video in America’s concentration camps.
Photo: U.S. Department of Homeland Security

“Congress and the courts created this problem, and Congress alone can fix it,” Homeland Security secretary Kristjen Nielsen said at a press conference yesterday. “Until then, we will enforce every law we have on the books to defend the sovereignty and security of the United States.”

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But as countless people have pointed out, Congress didn’t create this problem. The Trump regime created this problem with the purpose of separating children from their families as a “deterrent” so that people fleeing violence in Central America would not come to the U.S. to seek asylum.

Before he became President Trump’s chief of staff, John Kelly was the secretary of Homeland Security. And he said very clearly back in March of 2017 that he was considering this policy of separating children from their parents.

“I am considering exactly that. They will be well cared for as we deal with their parents,” Kelly told CNN host Wolf Blitzer on March 6, 2017. Both his intention and the reasoning behind the policy was made clear.

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By April of this year, that “zero tolerance” policy was officially announced by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Sessions has even used the Bible to justify his actions, something that many religious leaders have condemned him for. But Sessions almost seemed to take joy in talking about the policies, noticeably smiling and almost laughing as he quoted the Bible.

Tents to house migrant children are seen from a distance at the Tornillo-Marcelino Serna Port of Entry on June 18, 2018 in Tornillo, Texas.
Photo: Getty

“Noncitizens who cross our borders unlawfully, between our ports of entry, with children are not an exception,” Sessions said last week. “They are the ones who broke the law, they are the ones who endangered their own children on their trek. The United States, on the other hand, goes to extraordinary lengths to protect them while the parents go through a short detention period.”

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But Sessions doesn’t mention that asylum seekers are being turned away at America’s ports of entry, something that Homeland Security secretary Nielsen denies. People seeking asylum sometimes have no choice but to cross the border to declare their intention. Seeking asylum is not a crime.

But right wing media went into overdrive last night, defending the camps in the most shocking ways possible. Fox News host Laura Ingraham even described the facilities as “essentially summer camps.” It’d be funny if it all wasn’t so horrendous.

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The question now becomes how much more expansive this Wikipedia entry will get. We’re living through history and our history books are being written in real time. Will America turn this ship around and stop abusing children by separating them from their parents and keeping them in cages? We can hope. But if yesterday’s combative press conference with Secretary Nielsen is any guide, that’s not going to happen anytime soon.

Update, 10:25am: The Wikipedia entry has been edited down significantly and now reads:

As part of the 2018 Trump administration family separation policy, nearly 2,000 immigrant children have been taken taken from their parents and placed in “detention centers.”[186] These centers have been described by those in opposition to the policy as “concentration camps”.[187] The centers had previously been cited by Texas officials for more than 150 health violations.[188]

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We can expect this article to change quite a bit as different editors fight over how to cover the language that people should use to describe the Trump regime’s policies.

Update 12:40pm: Wikipedia editors are currently fighting over whether America’s concentration camps deserve to be on the Wikipedia page for concentration camps.

A small sample of the discussion taking place:

The administration is saying several things at once, all while using these people as political pawns. But this not a concentration camp and should not be in this list. The existing article on Trump administration family separation policy sufficient covers this situation without further politicizing it by associating them with Nazism. [heat_fan1]

No comparison with extermination camps or the Holocaust is being made here. But this is a list of concentration and internment camps, and these are very clearly internment camps. For children. In America. In 2018. For shame. — The Anome

I totally agree with heat fan 1 on this. These are not either of those things are. To compare them downplays the horrors of the others. If the anome would take some time to do some googling they would find they are infact in a place where they are given healthcare, education, freedom to practice their religion and more. The fact so many wikis have been locked with false information is horrifing to say the least. [unsigned]

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We can expect a lot more discussion to come.

Update, June 20th, 4:50am: The debate on Wikipedia has really heated up. The current version of the entry has expanded considerably. It reads:

As part of the 2018 Trump administration’s family separation policy, nearly 2,000 minors were separated from their parents while trying to illegally cross the U.S.-Mexico border and placed in detention centers.[186][187] Rolling Stone likened these centers to “prisons” while The Houston Chronicle reported that a movement swelled online to call them “concentration camps.”[188][189] Similarly, former First Lady of the United States Laura Bush compared the images of the centers to U.S. Japanese internment camps during the Second World War.[190]16 out of 34[191] of the centers located in Texas had previously been cited by Texas officials for more than 150 health violations.[192][relevant?discuss] The former head of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, John Sandweg, was critical of child separation telling NBC News, “You could easily end up in a situation where the gap between a parent’s deportation and a child’s deportation is years.”

Several government officials disputed accusations of detention centers being concentration camps. Both White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Attorney GeneralJeff Sessions defended the policy by citing the Bible;[193] Sessions specifically cited Romans 13, saying, “I would cite you to the Apostle Paul and his clear and wise command in Romans 13, to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained the government for his purposes.”[194] In another interview, Sessions stated that “we’re doing the right thing,” and that the children “are not being abused.” U.S. Customs and Border Protection deputy commissioner Ronald Vitiello claimed that “it’s far from a concentration camp,” arguing that critics “should be more accurate when they describe what we’re trying to accomplish there.”[195]

As a response to the separation policy, Senator Dianne Feinstein introduced the Keep Families Together Act on June 8, proposing restrictions against separation of families crossing the border illegally.[196] As of June 18, all 49 Senate Democrats have co-sponsored the bill while no Republicans have endorsed the bill.[197] Senator Susan Collins, a Republican critic of the administration’s immigration policy, refused to endorse the bill, instead supporting a previous bill that included funding for the proposed border wall.[197]

Republican Senator Ted Cruz initially defended the family separation policy in an June 11 interview.[198] On June 18, despite his previous support of the detention centers, Cruz announced that he would introduce his own legislation to end the policy, criticizing the Democrats’ bill as “returning to the failed policy of ‘catch and release.’”[199] Cruz stated that his bill would end the separation policy by authorizing the construction of shelters to house families, expedite asylum cases, and increase the number of federal immigration judges.[199][200]

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But the section now has warnings that its neutrality is disputed.