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The Lights for Liberty vigil is held at The Arch on main campus on July 12, 2019 in Athens, Georgia. The vigil was held to support the end of human detention camps at the border of US and Mexico. (Photo/Daniela Rico)

The Trump Administration continues to hold undocumented immigrants in detention centers as they await trial, typically followed by deportation. Some of the camps are clean and air-conditioned, but others have unhygienic, overcrowded conditions, according to The Washington Post.

The Trump Administration is setting a bad example of detaining undocumented immigrants in a manner that only polarizes both political parties. After visiting two detention centers, even Vice President Mike Pence agrees the United States needs to find a better way to deal with undocumented immigrants. And with climate change gearing up to cause more northward migration and asylum seekers, this country urgently needs to find another solution.

The Trump Administration has reinstated conditions similar to concentration camps, which haven’t been seen since the Japanese-American detention during World War II. Neither camps equate to Auschwitz or Dachau, but concentration camps had existed before and after World War II. Andrea Pitzer, author of “One Long Night: A Global History of Concentration Camps” defines concentration camps as extra-judicial holding centers for political prisoners or ethnic minorities. 

The border camps inhumanely punish undocumented immigrants, with the U.S. Border and Customs Protection reporting 132,887 mostly Hispanic migrants detained, 24 dead under the care of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, children separated from their parents and some detainees facing unsanitary conditions.

If border camps don’t treat detainees properly now, I fear conditions will only grow worse as climate change spurs more global migration. According to Todd Miller’s book “Storming the Wall: Climate Change, Migration, and Homeland Security,” 2015 saw a severe dry spell in Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua, affecting poor farmers and their crop yields. Further, hurricanes, droughts and other environmental calamities could also force northward migration from Central America, which would stress the already broken immigration system in the United States. 

Natural disasters already displaces over 17 million people in 2018 according to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, and some of those people might wind up at our borders. There must be a better solution to their plight than throwing them into cages. 

I get where border camp advocates are coming from. Those immigrants broke the law and must face legal recourse. Many immigrants wait years to come here legally, including my parents from Bulgaria; if they can do it, why can’t the people south of the border? I hear you. But detainment camps are still unsustainable.

People shouldn’t have to sit nearly on top of each other behind kennel-like walls. I don’t want people dying under ICE’s watch. I hope the next president breaks this bad habit of throwing unwanted people in camps. Even if America cannot support them, we have to treat the people seeking a better life in this country with dignity and respect.

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