The New York Mayor’s Plan to Set Up a Tent City on Randalls Island

New York to Open Tent Camp for Migrants on Randalls Island

By IAN ALLEN

5 February 2013

On Thursday, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that he would allow a tent city to be set up on Randalls Island as a temporary camp for migrants entering the United States from the Mexican port of Matamoros. This is a clear example of the new policy that has emerged in the US over the past year—the “zero tolerance” on immigration under which immigrants are rounded up and detained by state and local police without charge, and the refusal of the federal government to release them into the communities where they will live.

In recent months, the Obama administration has been trying to contain the growing wave of refugee and asylum seekers arriving at southern border crossings at the US Southwest border as part of the “migrant surge.” The administration has also been attempting to divert attention from the conditions at the border by emphasizing the alleged threat from Mexican drug cartels, while downplaying the humanitarian crisis of people looking for more humane treatment than that meted out to them.

Even if the camp itself is in the name of humanitarianism and is intended to house the large numbers of individuals attempting to enter the US, its implementation is a direct attack on the most basic democratic values. Under the law, the tents cannot be used as shelters, so that the population will need to be dispersed throughout the city in order to function as a living space.

It is noteworthy that the city authorities responsible for this project do not want it to take place, having apparently determined that it would cause intolerable traffic congestion and air pollution. Yet, when their own figures prove that there is no pollution at the site, they will have had to cancel their own planned action on the issue.

The administration’s response to the wave of immigrants has been to increase the number of detention facilities within the country, with the aim of isolating the migrants within these detention camps until they receive an order to appear in court. The justification is to deter all forms of human migration.

In one of the most recent examples, Federal Judge James Robart in Arizona held that migrant

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