“You don't need to accept everything as true, you only have to accept it as necessary.”
-- The Trial, by Franz Kafka
People who have been inside the “tent courts” describe a surreal world. A massive complex of gleaming white tents sits on a platform over a former parking lot. Fake grass turf covers the walkways between tents, while gray linoleum covers the floors of the vinyl-walled hallways, offices, and courtroom spaces inside. The judge appears on a large video display, sitting in a real courtroom many miles away. The prosecutor speaks off-screen, and often untranslated.
Private security firm contractors in law-enforcement style uniforms control access by the public. The process involves long wait times for asylum applicants and observers. No cameras or cell phones are allowed. Throughout the entire system of detention and deportation, concealment from public view seems to be a prevailing goal.
The US government is using these tent courts to hear cases of migrants required to stay in Mexico while they await their immigration proceedings here. This often involves being sent back to Mexico to wait for a series of court dates, which can be weeks or months away.
These tent court proceedings are one piece of a complex system designed to control migration at our southern border. I will report on many other parts of this intricate machine in coming days.
These news articles can help you learn more about the tent courts:
- Tent courts opened to public | AIM Media Network
- Inside the tent courts on the US-Mexico border | CNN
- Latest Experiment on the Border: Tent Courts | NY Times
- Immigration "Tent Courts" Aren't Allowing Full Access To The Public, Attorneys Say | BuzzFeed
Migrants bathe in the Rio Grande within view of the tent courts