Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Conditions at migrant detention camps at the southern border are only going to get worse, journalist Andrea Pitzer told MSNBC's Chris Hayes on Thursday night.

Conditions at migrant detention camps at the southern border are only going to get worse, journalist Andrea Pitzer told MSNBC's Chris Hayes on Thursday night. (Image: screenshot)

Predicting Even More Horrifying Conditions, Historical Journalist Describes Parallels Between Trump Migrant Detention and Concentration Camps

The administration's treatment of migrants is part of a pattern of dehumanization that has disturbing precedent for what could come next

Eoin Higgins

Don't expect the camps housing migrants on the border to close anytime soon—if anything, expect conditions to get worse. 

That was the message from journalist Andrea Pitzer during an appearance with MSNBC's Chris Hayes on Thursday night. Pitzer, whose book "One Long Night" is an exhaustive history of the uses of concentration camps over the last century, said that the lessons of the past indicate that President Donald Trump's war on migrants isn't anywhere close to being over. 

"My research showed pretty conclusively that these camps don't just close themselves," said Pitzer, who stressed that the usefulness of the camps for governments targeting marginalized groups for abuse is one of the main reasons for their staying power. 

"They're going to get bigger and conditions inside them are going to get worse," Pitzer said. 

Pitzer's appearance on "All In" came after a week of disturbing news from U.S. detention camps on the southern border and beyond. On May 31, Common Dreams reported that migrants were being forced into dangerously overcrowded conditions in an El Paso detention center, with people climbing onto toilets to breathe easily. On June 1, the first day of Pride Month, a trans woman from El Salvador died in ICE custody. 

Common Dreams reporters also detailed Wednesday that the Trump administration is canceling "education, recreation, and legal services for unaccompanied migrant children in federal shelters across the country," and on Thursday described how former Trump Chief of Staff John Kelly is profiting off of child detentions—a policy he helped develop while in the White House—in the private sector.

The administration's treatment of migrants is part of a pattern of dehumanization that has disturbing precedent for what could come next, said Pitzer.

Of particular concern, Pitzer added, is that while the number of people coming to the border is increasing, the administration appears uninterested in and incapable of handling the influx. 

"They don't seem to have a plan on how to deal with this, other than to punish the refugees, the asylum seekers," said Pitzer, "or to have Mexico take care of it."

Pitzer, who noted the latter solution was not very realistic, added that without a clear plan for migrant detention, conditions in the camps were sure to get worse. 

"I expect to see contagious diseases, malnutrition in some cases, and mental health crises," Pitzer said. "We're going to have that very soon; there might be reports already coming of that."

Watch the full segment:


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

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

FDA Panel Recommends Pfizer Booster Shots for People 65+ and Especially Vulnerable

The scientific advisory committee voted down a recommendation for other adults.

Common Dreams staff ·


'What Betrayal Looks Like': UN Report Says World on Track for 2.7°C of Warming by 2100

"Whatever our so-called 'leaders' are doing," said Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, "they are doing it wrong."

Jake Johnson ·


Critics Warn Biden That 30% Methane Reduction by 2030 Not Good Enough

Following the new U.S.-E.U. pledge, climate campaigners called for an urgent end to fossil fuel extraction and major reforms of agricultural practices.

Jessica Corbett ·


Anti-War Voices Blast Biden Over 'Absurd' $500 Million Saudi Military Contract

"This breaks the Biden administration's promise to end U.S. support for the tragic war in Yemen," said one prominent peace campaigner.

Brett Wilkins ·


Unemployment Benefit Cut-Off Will Slash Annual Incomes by $144 Billion: Analysis

"By failing to extend unemployment benefits, Congress and the White House will harm working people struggling in the pandemic."

Jake Johnson ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo