Inside and Outside a Tent Camp for Child Migrants

What is life like for child migrants who are confined to what the U.S. government refers to as a child shelter? Critics of the administration’s “zero-tolerance” policy use much stronger language. This Vice News report, focusing on the Tornillo tent camp during late June 2018, tries to find out. The report also explores the legal controversies, and politics, surrounding family reunifications. Among the challenges the report examines are the dilemmas facing Republican politicians in Texas who do not agree with the Federal governments’ immigration policies.

Reflection Questions

What does this report reveal about the civic challenges surrounding the U.S. government’s “zero-tolerance” policy?

Based on the report, what do you see as the moral, legal, and political challenges related to the existence of camps set up for child migrants?

Go beyond the report and research: what problem are camps trying to solve? Consider how politicians, as well as migration experts, describe what is going on?

As you watch the Vice News report, watch carefully for facts, opinions, and generalizations. Consider what you know from watching the piece. What do you think you know (but can’t prove)? And, what questions remain? Are there things you would like to find out related to the story, if so, how can you get an answer?

Some people argue that every news source comes with a bias. Did the report seem to have a bias to you? If so, what was the bias? How would you prove it?

Are historical episodes useful for us to reflect upon to understand the current moment or are historical analogies a distraction? Is there anything to learn from the histories of Japanese Internment, the American Indian Boarding Schools, or the shelters for child refugees who came from Cuba during Operation Peter Pan? Beyond the particular histories themselves, and their unique contexts, are there lessons from the way these episodes are perceived with historical hindsight? If so, what are they?