In this searing eyewitness report on the situation at the U.S.-Mexican border, Frey argues that long-standing U.S. policies to deter illegal immigration by building fences, detaining and mistreating and then deporting immigrants, and now splitting up families cannot stem the flow of desperate people. Harsh U.S. policies have, however, killed an unknown number of immigrants, as people resort to more dangerous routes and some die in overcrowded detention facilities. The only winners are the federal bureaucracies whose budgets and personnel swell, opportunistic politicians who traffic in fear-mongering, and the defense contractors that supply the facilities and weaponry. Although the Trump administration may have adopted “zero tolerance” policies, since the 1980s, the U.S. Congress and various administrations, including those of Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, have laid the groundwork for the mistreatment of immigrants through legislation, executive orders, and anti-immigrant rhetoric. Housed within the military-minded Department of Homeland Security, the 20,000-strong Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, in Frey’s view, has morphed into an unaccountable, ill-trained “clandestine police force” running the world’s largest immigrant detention system. Frey argues that instead of locking immigrants up, the United States should promote economic development in the countries from which they come, create legal work programs in the United States, and properly staff U.S. immigration courts.
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