Charli Carpenter

Charli Carpenter teaches war law at University of Massachusetts Amherst and is author of three books on the protection of civilians. Her complete series “Summer Vacation in an Age of Concentration Camps” is at Lawyers, Guns and Money. Follow her @charlicarpenter.

Recent Articles

“Just Following Orders”: Conversations With Concentration Camp Guards at the Southern Border

A professor travels to Texas to talk to the men and women working at detention facilities.

In early August, I walked through an open gate at the Paso del Norte detention facility in El Paso, one of the more notorious detention facilities for refugees on the southern border, and began talking to the guards. One of them threatened me and a colleague with arrest, but he was an outlier. Some of them were standoffish, but even those unwilling to answer questions were mostly polite and engaging. One man even told me he appreciated the chance to dialogue with a fellow American in a human way. Several admitted, when pressed to speak as Americans instead of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents, that they didn’t think some of what was going on was right. One promised me that he would do everything he could to help change the policy that had him and his colleagues arbitrarily imprisoning refugee families . He hadn’t realized until our chat, he said, that the camps were unconstitutional . He had never heard about the Refugee Convention , but he said he’d look it...