Someone is going to empty lots and cordoned off buildings around the country and putting signs on the fences around them. These aren’t ordinary signs, either. They literally say, “Lot reserved for: Future Internment Camp.” They carry the presidential seal and Donald Trump’s signature.
— LAist (@LAist) March 6, 2017
— Chicagoist (@Chicagoist) March 7, 2017
Street art hits Boston https://t.co/ZutU678Wao
— Erin Tiernan (@ErinTiernan) March 8, 2017
— ¡SATIRISTAS! (@Satiristas) March 6, 2017
— Plastic Jesus (@plasticjesusart) March 6, 2017
They aren’t real (yet), but they are a frightening reminder of just who we elected to the White House and what it is that Trump is trying to do. They’re the work of a street artist known as Plastic Jesus, who’s previously focused most of his work on the entertainment industry. According to LAist, though, these signs are something different, and not just because they’re political:
“We’re seeing detention of travelers to the U.S. They have all the proper credentials, but they’re being detained for the country they’re coming from, as well as their race. I have a friend who was detained because her name was Lebanese. She was detained for a couple hours and was questioned. This was someone who has a visa.”
Lebanon isn’t on Trump’s list. It’s normal for U.S. Customs and Border Protection to briefly question foreign nationals from everywhere before granting them admission to the country, and it’s true that we don’t know all the specific circumstances surrounding these detentions. However, the amount of hours-long detention for people who seem to otherwise check out (are traveling on the proper visa, have the rest of their travel documents and itineraries in order, etc.) is alarming.
Not only are people being unnecessarily, and even wrongly, delayed prior to entering the U.S., but Trump is working to ramp up deportation, including increasing funding for “detention beds,” for immigrants awaiting deportation. To ramp up the deportation process the way Trump wants could eventually require camps, since detention centers aren’t big enough, probably won’t be made big enough, and deporting someone isn’t as simple as picking them up and driving them across the border.
The signs reference Executive Order 9066, which is the order FDR signed to create the Japanese internment camps we had during WWII. The idea of camps for immigrants, people who are prohibited from entering the U.S. due to Trump’s new travel ban but can’t be turned around immediately, and possibly more, is eerily evocative of that.
There’s some backlash, but when art gets political like this, there will always be backlash. The idea is to stir people up and make them take notice of the events unfolding around them.
Featured image by John Moore via Getty Images