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Introduction

  • Nathan K. Hensley

Extract

“We saw no issues,” reports the Department of Homeland Security in a self-study of its practices for detaining children at the US–Mexico border, “except one unsanitary bathroom.” The system is working as it should; all is well. “CBP [Customs and Border Protection] facilities we visited,” the report summarizes, “appeared to be operating in compliance with the 2015 National Standards on Transport, Escort, Detention, and Search.” A footnote on page 2 of the September 2018 document defines the prisoners at these facilities, the “unaccompanied alien children,” as “aliens under the age of eighteen with no lawful immigration status in the United States and without a parent or legal guardian in the United States ‘available’ to care and [provide] physical custody for them.” Available is in scare quotes. This tic of punctuation discloses to us that the parents of these children have been arrested and removed. They are not available, and cannot take physical custody of their children, because they themselves are in physical custody. In a further typographical error, the word “provide” has been omitted: the children are without a parent or legal guardian in the United States “available” to care and physical custody for them. The dropped word turns “physical custody” into a verb and sets this new action, to physical custody, in tense relation to “care.”

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Copyright

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Introduction

  • Nathan K. Hensley

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