Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Corporate gatekeepers and big tech monopolists are making it more difficult than ever for independent media to survive. Please chip in today.

U.S. Border Patrol agents register migrants at a processing center in El Paso, Texas.

U.S. Border Patrol agents register migrants at a processing center in El Paso, Texas. (Photo: Mani Albrecht/U.S. Customs and Border Protection, via Getty Images)

'We Are Running Concentration Camps': Images From El Paso Stir Outrage Over Migrant Treatment

The conditions in El Paso reminded some observers of the worst of humanity. 

Eoin Higgins

Hundreds of migrants are being held by border agents in a fenced in encampment under a bridge in El Paso, leading to anger and accusations that the American government is holding people in "concentration camps."

Images posted online by reporters and advocates painted a disturbing scene in the Texas city. Lines of migrants behind fencing, being processed by agents from U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP), walked into a camp area that appeared to be standing room only. 

Reporters from The Washington Post caught pictures of crowds of migrants behind fencing. 

The encampment, which is referred to by CBP as a "transitional shelter," was set up in the last month according to reporting from Buzzfeed

"The tent that is set up underneath the Paso Del Norte port of entry and adjacent to the Border Patrol's Processing Facility is a transitional shelter," a CBP spokesperson told the outlet. "Due to the large volume of apprehensions within the El Paso Station's Area of Responsibility, the agency has undertaken additional measures to facilitate processing."

Photos of the hundreds of people held at the site spread over social media on Wednesday. The publicity came alongside an appearance at El Paso by CBP commissioner Kevin McAleenan, who said that the border was "at its breaking point." 

"CBP is facing an unprecedented humanitarian and border security crisis all along our Southwest border," said McAleenan, "and nowhere has that crisis manifested more acutely than here in El Paso."

As a number of immigration advocates pointed out, that's a hard sell in 2019 given the amount of border crossings two decades ago—crossings peaked at 1.6 million a year in 2000. The conditions in El Paso reminded some observers of the worst of humanity. 

"This is a fucking concentration camp," writer Lauren Hough said on Twitter. "We are running concentration camps."

"It's appalling," said Women's March communications director Sophie Ellman-Golan.

Meanwhile, according to reporting from The Texas Tribune, CBP pulled 750 agents from across Texas's southern border's ports of entry to El Paso to help with processing. There is no return date as yet for those agents, raising concerns that the border will become even more closed off in the near future. 


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Two Years After George Floyd Murder, Biden to Issue Executive Order on Police Reform

"The entire culture and mentality needs to change to bring these words to life, and to save lives," said one civil liberties advocate.

Julia Conley ·


'Wholesale Fraud' in Michigan Governor Race Could Disqualify GOP Candidates

"It looks like the Republican clown car may be losing a few occupants."

Jessica Corbett ·


Jayapal Says Corporate-Friendly No Labels Shows 'True Colors' by Undermining Jan. 6 Investigation

"To malign the January 6 Committee as a 'partisan exercise' is a dangerous message for the American public and our democracy—one that deeply undermines the committee's work and denies the truth about the Republican Party."

Brett Wilkins ·


As End of Roe Looms, US Doctors Say 'Abortion Is Essential Healthcare'

"Although ACOG's long-standing abortion policy supported safe, legal, evidence-based abortion care, the current reproductive health crisis calls for revisions which make it unmistakably clear that ACOG trusts doctors and patients," said the group.

Julia Conley ·


Biaggi to Primary 'Selfish Corporate Democrat' Sean Patrick Maloney in NY

The New York state senator says she's running "to protect and defend our democracy, to halt the climate crisis, to grow our supply of affordable housing, and to transform our government and economy to serve us all."

Andrea Germanos ·

Common Dreams Logo