A USA Today columnist is calling upon the government to send undocumented children to a U.S. Naval base primarily known for housing imprisoned suspects of terrorism.
More than 52,000 unaccompanied minors, most of them from Central America, have crossed into the United States illegally this year, overwhelming the U.S. government's facilities for housing them. By law, non-Mexican minors caught crossing illegally are put in the care of the Office of Refugee Resettlement, rather than being repatriated immediately.
Writing for USA Today, DeWayne Wickham argued Monday that housing the children at Guantánamo Bay in Cuba would be an ideal solution for the current immigration crisis, even though, as he acknowledged, Haitian refugees sent there in the 1990s were "treated only slightly better than the prisoners from the U.S. global war on terrorism."
But for the children of today's migration crisis, Wickham writes, the Navy base "is capable of being a far more hospitable place," noting that it "boasts movie theaters, American fast-food restaurants and excellent recreational facilities."
Wickham writes that the Central American child migrants are "neither refugees of a war the U.S. was involved in, nor the product of a lingering ideological tug of war."
In fact, the United States has helped fuel violent conflicts in Central America since the 1950s, chiefly under the pretext of containing communism. The latest uptick in violence is at least partly a consequence of the U.S.-led war on drugs.
Wickham, for his part, argues that the Central American countries of El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala have devolved into cauldrons of violence due to a lack of "international pressure" and not enough "good sense." Given the situation, Wickham says it's best to "house all the children, temporarily, at Guantanamo Bay."
The U.S. government does not have a good track record of housing people at Guantánamo temporarily. Of the nearly 800 people who have been imprisoned there at some point since 2002, many spent years at the facility. Only eight were convicted by U.S. military commissions as of last year, according to the Center for Constitutional Rights.
Of the 149 remaining prisoners, about half of them have been cleared for release, including a group of 58 Yemenis whom the Obama administration has refused to free, citing concerns about their country's stability.