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Udall likens crisis to internment camps

By Michael Coleman

WASHINGTON – Sen. Tom Udall on Monday compared government plans to detain migrant families on military bases near the Mexican border to the internment of Japanese families in the United States during World War II.

The Trump administration last week reversed a policy that separated children from their parents, which sparked outrage among Democrats and some Republicans. Now the administration has said that some families attempting to cross the border illegally will be detained but not separated until their cases are adjudicated.

Speaking to CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on Monday, Udall suggested that isn’t much better.

“The situation the president is moving us towards is a real humanitarian disaster, because we are now going to put families in big camps on military bases. We’ve never done that in the United States,” Udall said. “The last time I can remember was the Japanese internment. … That’s not a very good alternative.”

In a Washington Post op-ed last week, former first lady Laura Bush made a similar comparison, writing that the confinement of migrants is “eerily reminiscent of the internment camps for U.S. citizens and noncitizens of Japanese descent during World War II, now considered to have been one of the most shameful episodes in U.S. history.”

Udall urged President Donald Trump to visit the border.

“I think the president should go down to the border and see the chaos he’s created,” he said.

Sen. Tom Udall

Also on Monday, Udall and Sen. Martin Heinrich wrote the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and asked him to conduct a hearing on the practice of separating migrant children from their parents.

“This policy is responsible for hundreds of children being forcibly separated from their families, falsely labeled ‘unaccompanied alien children,’ and transferred to the custody of the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement,” the senators wrote in a letter to Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley. “This cruel treatment of children and families arriving to the United States demands immediate and direct Congressional oversight.”

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