The Trump administration must feel fortunate there were no images or audio recordings collected by a team of lawyers and doctors who recently made a visit to a Customs and Border Patrol facility holding Central American migrant children in Clint, Texas, because the team uncovered horrifying conditions.

They documented toddlers in soiled clothing; children huddled together for warmth at night on hard floors; and 7-year-olds charged with caring for small children who were torn from their parents when they crossed the border, among other awful circumstances. Reportedly, guards mete out harsh punishment for minor mistakes, like depriving children of their scant bedding as punishment for misplacing hairbrushes.

A pediatrician who visited the Clint facility commented that significant improvements in health and living standards could be obtained even without increases in funding. Cruelty and neglect seem to be the point.

The migrant detention facilities in Texas are a preview of authoritarian rule. Like authoritarians in Russia, North Korea and Venezuela, the architects of the Clint facility reject a core idea of our democracy, that all people possess rights endowed by nature. That is why in America everyone, even undocumented immigrants, are entitled to humane and fair treatment. These natural rights do not exist at the pleasure of our rulers. They just exist.

Having rejected a core idea of our democratic system, the Trump administration might be expected to show little restraint in chipping away at the liberties of U.S. citizens.

The conditions at the CBP facilities deserve our attention. We should be alarmed and communicate this to our elected representatives immediately. We should also be vigilant of this administration’s next moves because it could be our liberties they come after next.

Scott Taylor

Town of Dunn