Child detention camps show the US is 'quite far down the line' of fascism - Amnesty

The US is "quite far down" the line to becoming a fascist state comparable to Nazi Germany, according to Amnesty International.

And campaigns manager Meg de Ronde says President Donald Trump's executive order appears set to make the horror of his child detention camps, in some ways, even worse.

More than 2000 children, some as young as nine months, have been separated from their parents and put into detention centres while their parents face charges for crossing the southern border. Audio leaked from one of the centres captured children crying for their parents, while border patrol staff mocked them.

The Trump administration's 'zero tolerance' policy has not differentiated between asylum seekers and opportunist migrants. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who announced the policy in April, and White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders both cited the Bible when asked to defend the policy last week.

After weeks of saying he could do nothing to stop children being separated from their parents, Mr Trump on Thursday (NZ time) issued an executive order to end the policy. But Ms de Ronde says it will do nothing to stop the "truly problematic" detention of children.

"The Trump executive order continues to punish children, babies and families who are seeking asylum, which is a basic human right," she told Newshub. "This isn't going to prevent those families from being kept in cages."

That's because Mr Trump's order directs Mr Sessions to get a court to rule the Department of Homeland Security can hold families in detention for as long as their case takes to get heard. Presently there is a 20-day limit on detaining children, who are also meant to be housed with close relatives or friends as soon as possible - not kept in camps.

"Currently the executive order will allow Donald Trump to have indefinite detention of families who are seeking asylum at the US border," said Ms de Ronde.

"This would mean legally they are trying to keep families in detention for as long as they need. It's abhorrent, and it's breaching international law and refugee rights."

During his tumultuous 18 months in the presidency, Mr Trump has been accused by various critics of having a worrying sympathy for authoritarianism - earlier this month he was praising North Korea despot Kim Jong-un, whilst criticising the United States' allies and threatening them with trade warfare.

He's also courted controversy for his views on racial controversies, blaming "both sides" for violence at pro- and anti-racism rallies that got out of control in 2017, and calling the white supremacists "very fine people".

But separating thousands of innocent children mothers and fathers has many now wondering if the President is a straight-up fascist. 

"I've seen many people say this is the first step to Nazi Germany," says Ms De Ronge.

"Actually we're quite far down the line of this being fascist politics. You don't lock up families and children indefinitely, and it is very worrying."

Stephen Miller.
Stephen Miller. Photo credit: Getty

White House adviser Stephen Miller, who helped draft the Trump administration's ill-fated attempt at a "Muslim ban", is credited with coming up with the zero-tolerance policy.

According to a source quoted by Vanity Fair, Mr Miller "actually enjoys seeing those pictures at the border".

"He's a twisted guy, the way he was raised and picked on. There's always been a way he's gone about this. He's Waffen-SS."