Decades before President Donald Trump nominated William Barr to retake the reins at the Department of Justice, Barr used the post to indefinitely detain hundreds of HIV-positive asylum-seekers at a Guantanamo Bay detention center, deemed an “HIV prison camp” by a federal judge who ruled the quarantine to be in gross violation of the U.S. Constitution.
That policy, part of a program that at its peak held more than 12,000 Haitian refugees at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, helped lay the legal groundwork for the indefinite incarceration of “enemy combatants” in the War on Terror—and institutionalized the detention system that President Trump has made a cornerstone of his immigration policy. Barr has since defended the detention of hundreds of HIV-positive asylum-seekers, some of them children, even though the government’s own lawyers admitted at the time that detainees had inadequate medical care.
“Detention at Guantanamo was a calculated effort to deny any constitutional or legal rights to bona fide refugees and targeted and stigmatized Haitians because of their illness,” said Lucas Guttentag, the founding national director of the Immigrants’ Rights Project of the American Civil Liberties Union and co-counsel in fighting for the refugees’ freedom. “The conditions were deplorable, and the callous lack of sensitivity to human suffering and fundamental human rights was shocking.”
“While individual doctors and medical providers did what they could, the conditions made any notion of adequate care impossible,” Guttentag said.Read More