Late last week, a video went viral showing a lawyer for the Justice Department arguing before a California Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that the Trump administration should not be required to provide toothbrushes, soap, and blankets to migrant children at detention sites.
Speaking to lawyer Sarah Fabian, one of the three judges presiding, Judge A. Wallace Tashima, asked, “If you don’t have a toothbrush, if you don’t have soap, if you don’t have a blanket, it’s not safe and sanitary. Wouldn’t everybody agree to that?”
Judge Marsha Berzon also asked, “But you’re really going to stand up and tell us that being able to sleep isn’t a question of safe and sanitary conditions?”
“Any number of things might fall under those categories,” Fabian replied, adding, “I think the concern there, your honor, is the court-finding that sleep, for example, is relevant to a finding of safe and sanitary conditions is one thing. But the ultimate conclusion is ‘safe and sanitary’ is a singular category to the agreement. And it was, one has to assume, left that way and not enumerated by the parties because either the parties couldn’t reach an agreement on how to enumerate that, or that it was left to the agencies to determine.”
“Or it was relatively obvious,” Judge William Fletcher interjected.
The video sparked outrage across the internet, with many saying that it drove home the cruelty behind the Trump administration’s immigration policies. One of those people was journalist and author Michael Scott Moore, who suggested that his treatment at the hands of Somali pirates who held him hostage was in some ways better then the children’s predicament.
“Somali pirates gave me toothpaste & soap,” he tweeted while highlighting the video of the Justice Department lawyer.
Chiming in soon after was New York Times journalist David Rhode, who was held captive by the Taliban for eight months. In 2009, he and an associate were able to to escape. His observation was similar to that of Moore’s.
“The Taliban gave me toothpaste & soap,” he replied under Moore’s tweet.
The Taliban gave me toothpaste & soap.
— David Rohde (@RohdeD) June 24, 2019
A report from the Associated Press last week described conditions at a Clint. Texas facility as being “inadequate” in regards to “food, water and sanitation for the 250 infants, children and teens” being held there. A report filed by a doctor who visited the center said that it “could be compared to torture facilities.”
Featured image via screen grab/YouTube