The former homeland security secretary deployed the cynically calculated skills of a careerist technocrat in the cause of Trump’s inhumanity.
By Richard Wolffe
The Guardian (4/8/19)
Of all the charlatans, sycophants and moral sellouts surrounding Donald Trump, no one comes close to Kirstjen Nielsen.
Not Steve Bannon, the neo-fascist strategist who glued a thin veneer of ideology on top of the particle board flakes that fill the cranium of a bankrupt property developer.
Not Paul Manafort, the ostrich jacket-loving former campaign chairman now serving seven years for being a liar and fraud after servicing a motley crew of tyrants.
The Department of Homeland Security is a vastly expensive and vastly immoral catastrophe.
Trump’s ninth circle of hell
No, there is no one quite like the departing secretary of homeland security, who forced some of the world’s most vulnerable people to pay any price and bear any burden to assure the survival of her own career.
In Trump’s ninth circle of hell, there may be more ideological hardliners than Nielsen and there certainly are more wingnut sociopaths.
But Nielsen has deployed all the skills of a careerist technocrat to oversee the two greatest scandals of the entire human misfortune that is the Trump presidency: a death toll of more than 3,000 in the criminally negligent aftermath of Hurricane Maria, and tens of thousands of children illegally imprisoned and forcibly separated from their parents at the southern border.
Long after we have forgotten how to spell her name, there will be children suffering from the permanent separation from their parents because Nielsen was too incompetent and inhuman to track them or their parents.
Those children are just the collateral damage of someone pretending to be tough enough to be part of Trump’s band of bullies. …
Kirstjen Nielsen’s Cruel Legacy: Outgoing DHS Secretary Proudly Kidnapped & Caged Children
Then she repeatedly lied about what was happening.
Democracy Now! (4/9/19)
Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen has been forced out of her role at the helm of President Trump’s immigration policy after reportedly resisting a move by the president to revive his family separation policy at the U.S. border. We look at Nielsen’s legacy with Renée Feltz, a Democracy Now! correspondent and producer who has long reported on the criminalization of immigrants, family detention and the business of detention. Nielsen oversaw Trump’s “zero tolerance” family separation policy last year and came under fire by Democrats for lying to Congress about the policy, as well as for withholding information on children who died in U.S. custody. At least two children died under Nielsen’s leadership: 8-year-old Felipe Alonzo Gómez and 7-year-old Jakelin Caal Maquín.
Las hieleras: The Iceboxes At The Border
The Cut (12/26/19)
Migrants, immigration activists, and even — allegedly — U.S. government officials have a nickname for the frigid, cramped holding cells in Customs and Border Protection facilities: las hieleras, or “the iceboxes.” Women and children detained at the border will routinely spend several nights crowded into these tiny rooms, according to reports, wrapped in foil blankets, shivering, and denied mattresses and medicine.
In 2013, three undocumented immigrants sued the U.S. government over abuses they said they’d suffered in CBP custody, specifically citing the bitterly cold temperatures. “[One woman’s] lips eventually chapped and split,” read one of their suits. “The lips and fingers of her two sisters and her sister’s child also turned blue.” Since then, it seems, little has changed: On December 19, BuzzFeed News reported that a five-month-old girl has been hospitalized with pneumonia after being held in a hielera for five days with her mother. Within two days of being released from detention, she had a 102.7-degree fever and was throwing up.
The U.S. government is incredibly opaque about the conditions in their facilities; a CBP representative wouldn’t confirm the existence of hieleras to the Cut, and the agency has previously insisted that their cells are kept at 70 degrees. Reports from watchdog organizations and first-hand accounts from those who’ve been held in detention paint a starkly different picture, though: one of rampant abuse, neglect, and dangerously low temperatures. Here’s what we know.
The conditions inside of hieleras are notoriously bad
According to a February 2018 report from the Human Rights Watch, the conditions in the detention run by CBP centers are abysmal. In addition to the frigid temperatures, migrants are reportedly subjected to intense overcrowding, forced to sleep on concrete floors, and denied showers, soap, and toothpaste. The first photos of a hielera were only publicly released in 2016; they show over a dozen people sharing a tiny, concrete room in a Tucson facility, huddled under foil blankets.
“They took us to a room that was cold and gave us aluminum blankets,” a Guatemalan woman who had been held in an Arizona detention center in 2017 told HRW. “There were no mats. We slept on the bare floor. It was cold, really cold.”
Another woman, who crossed with her two-year-old son in 2015, was detained in Texas described similar conditions. “We were completely soaked from crossing the river. We’d waded in the water up to our waists. The place they held us was really cold. They only gave us a paper blanket. That’s all we had to keep us warm,” she said. “We were sitting on the cement floor, completely freezing. In the end, I had to sleep seated upright, with my son in my lap, because I couldn’t let him lay down on the cement floor. He would have been much too cold.”
Because there is limited access to the detention centers managed by the CBP, there’s no way to be sure how long, exactly, hieleras have existed …