"CORRECTED: Bachmann And Migrant Children"
CREDIT: AP Photo / Susan Walsh
Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) has an unusual solution to the crisis of unaccompanied migrant children coming across America’s southern border: put them in camps and put them to work. KCTV7 News in Kansas City reported last week that Bachmann proposed the idea of “Americanization Facilities” where the children would be put to work to pay off the costs of their past, present and futures care. In exchange, the children would also be fast-tracked on a path to citizenship. “I’m calling on all of us, Obama and Congress and everyone, to chip in and build special new facilities… ‘Americanization facilities,’ if you will,” Bachmann told Minnesota’s Twin Cities News Talk. “And we’d send these kids to these facilities, in Arizona and Texas and wherever else. And we’d get private sector business leaders to locate to those facilities and give these children low-risk jobs to do. And they’d learn about the American way of life, earn their keep, and everyone wins in the end.” When pressed by conservative radio host Jason Lewis about what life would be like in the camps, Bachmann elaborated that the purpose would also be to inculcate the children into English-speaking American culture. “Well, we’d of course want these facilities to be ideal, you know, for the children to work and learn,” Bachmann continued. “They’d spend half of their day working, and the other half learning what every child should learn, and that’s English, you know, English and American history. And as soon as they learn English with some degree of fluency, they can attend local schools, maybe with a voucher program, or something like that. And then they could work when they aren’t in school.” The flow of migrant children across the southern border has almost doubled since last year, and an estimated 60,000 will cross by the end of fiscal year 2014 — without any accompanying parents, guardians, or papers. Most are fleeing violence from drug cartel conflicts in their home countries — such as Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras — where they face “severe intrafamilial abuse, abandonment, exploitation, deep deprivation, forced marriage, or female genital cutting. Others are trafficked to the United States for sexual or labor exploitation.” Others are trafficked across the border to be exploited as labor or in the sex trades. Most of the children turn themselves over to the border guards, at which point they’re usually either in migrant detention centers — sometimes for as long as a year — or often reunited with family members in the United States. Meanwhile, they are placed in immigration proceedings where they must defend themselves just as any adult would have to. Despite the hardships they already face, Bachmann argued her plan would rebound to the benefit of the children by allowing them to take advantage of job opportunities in the states. “I think this is a great way to bring businesses into the Texas and Arizona areas, and maybe other states struggling with low employment opportunities, thanks mostly to Obama’s policies,” Bachmann said. “It’s about opportunity, not just for these kids but for the American people.” “It helps the businesses, and if we can raise fifty-thousand God-fearing, English-speaking Americans, who understand real American values, then I’d say it’s a job well done.” According to a recent report in the New York Times, 60,000 immigrants in detention facilities across the country are already used as low cost labor — often making only a dollar a day, or being paid in credits to detention facility stores. Officials insist the programs are voluntary, but immigrant advocates point to cases in which detainees were threatened with solitary confinement and other punishments if they refused to work.