You always have a choice

If you knew…

If you knew of a child who was being forced by a parent or guardian to sleep on a cold concrete floor, in overcrowded surroundings, with screaming lights always on overhead that made it hard to sleep, with limited access to a bathroom, no way to brush their teeth, no soap and no towel — would you do something?

Of course you would. You would dial 911 (in the US) and report the circumstances and location.

But if the child is a migrant, it’s government policy to do that to them.

In 2014 — during the Obama administration, it should be noted — several young immigrants caught along the border said they had been given dirty water to drink and kept in crowded, frigid cells.

U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee of Los Angeles ruled that children taken into federal immigration custody must be kept in “safe and sanitary” facilities.

The judges of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, based in San Francisco, upheld Judge Gee’s ruling two years ago. But this week, Sarah Fabian, senior litigation counsel for the Department of Justice, told the three-judge panel she thought the phrase was vague.

It’s not all that vague. “Safe” includes not unhealthy, so it rules out sleeping on a concrete floor, sleeping with lights on all night, sleeping in the cold…and so on.

Judge Marsha Berzon asked Fabian: “You’re really going to stand up and tell us that being able to sleep isn’t a question of ‘safe and sanitary’ conditions?”

Judge William Fletcher said, “Cold all night long, lights on all night long, sleeping on concrete and you’ve got an aluminum foil blanket? I find it inconceivable that the government would say that that is safe and sanitary.”

“It may be they don’t get super-thread-count Egyptian linen, I get that,” he added, and said the soap provided didn’t have to be perfumed. But plain soap, he said, “sounds like it’s part of ‘safe and sanitary.’ “

Judge A. Wallace Tashima said, “If you don’t have a toothbrush, if you don’t have soap, if you don’t have a blanket, it’s not safe and sanitary. Wouldn’t everybody agree to that?”

Everybody except people who take orders from Trump.

Matthew Miller points out that they aren’t forced to.

2 Responses to “You always have a choice”

Leave a Comment

Subscribe without commenting