The Trump administration has decided that an Army base in Oklahoma is the perfect place to hold the growing number of immigrant children it is keeping in custody, despite some incredible symbolism that would have others thinking twice. The Army base, Fort Sill, was once used as an internment camp for Japanese Americans during World War II.
Now Fort Sill will be used “as a temporary emergency influx shelter” for about 1,400 children. They will be detained there until they can be given to an adult relative, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said, as Time reported. The Trump administration recently cut funding for English lessons, soccer games, legal aid, and other forms of entertainment and education for the children being held against their will in these camps, meaning the children will have very little to keep them occupied.
In addition to Fort Sill, minors are being held at about 168 facilities and programs in 23 states all operated by DHS. As Time writes, DHS has taken about 40,900 children into custody through April 30. The agency reportedly assessed two other military bases before selecting Fort Sill. Before adding this latest chapter to Fort Sill’s ignominious history, it served as an internment camp for Japanese Americans removed from their homes under federal order 9066. That order required an estimated 120,000 Americans of Japanese ancestry to be incarcerated between 1942 and 1946. (Check out the podcast Order 9066 for details of this dark corner of American history.)
Want to help incarcerated children? Head here for ideas, here for other ideas, or follow Congressman Tony Cárdenas’s suggestions here. They include working as a pro bono immigration lawyer, fostering a child through Catholic Charities (or donating to their cause), and donating to Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services.