The government and media call them “immigrant detention centers.” They are meant to be temporary holding facilities—up to 72 hours—for migrants and asylum-seekers crossing the southern US border. But the average length of stay has become much longer and the facilities have become overcrowded and unsanitary. In a word, the conditions are inhumane.
The political struggle over the Mueller report illustrates the tortuous social life of a text—especially a text fraught with high political stakes for a sitting president. Special counsel regulations required Robert Mueller to communicate his “prosecution or declination decisions” in a report to the attorney general who would then provide a summary to Congress—ensuring the report would pass through several links of a twisty speech chain before reaching the public.
Ardern’s pronouncement before parliament illustrates how naming is integrally linked with social practice while demonstrating what moral and political leadership looks like in a time of national crisis.