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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

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)

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:

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