Before diving into the media hyperbole surrounding children of illegal aliens being separated from their parents, it's helpful to first clear the air.
When did this controversial policy begin?
Is this a Democratic law, as President Trump argued?
Or is this policy unique to the Trump Administration, as Democrats claim?
The answer is somewhere in the middle.
So, what's going on?
There are three instances when children are separated from their family when caught illegally crossing the border (as Rich Lowry helpfully explained in this piece): When the "parent" isn't actually the parent; when the parent is deemed a threat to the child(ren), and when the parent is put into a criminal proceeding.
What's changed under the Trump Administration is that all adult illegal aliens apprehended at the border are now being prosecuted; as a result, more children are being held as their parents await their proceedings. However, this process typically takes less than a day. They are then reunited and returned home.
More complicated is when the parents claim political asylum, a process that takes longer to adjudicate. During these proceedings, the government is forced to release either the children or the entire family after a period of 20 days, a loophole that has made the use of children in asylum claims increasingly frequent. As Lowry notes:
In that scenario, the adults are almost certainly going to be detained longer than the government is allowed to hold their children.
That’s because of something called the Flores Consent Decree from 1997. It says that unaccompanied children can be held only 20 days. A ruling by the Ninth Circuit extended this 20-day limit to children who come as part of family units. So even if we want to hold a family unit together, we are forbidden from doing so.
The clock ticking on the time the government can hold a child will almost always run out before an asylum claim is settled. The migrant is allowed ten days to seek an attorney, and there may be continuances or other complications.
Because the feds are barred from holding children as long as asylum claims typically take to process, they are often forced to release either the children, or the whole family, into America. Unsurprisingly, it has become increasingly common for illegal immigrants to bring children specifically to increase their chances of successfully entering the States.
Lowry quotes New York Times and Arizona Republic reports where smugglers admit paying Central American parents to use their children for help secure entry to America. The Daily Caller's Saagar Enjeti quoted a law enforcement source who said children are being used as part of "rampant fraud" to gain entry to the U.S.:
THREAD 1/: LE source actively involved in situation at border tells @DailyCaller single males with "children" are increasingly arriving. Neither the child nor the adult can answer basic questions about each other, authorities suspect rampant fraud https://t.co/SHXEqzB0pS pic.twitter.com/2P7knSPDxc— Saagar Enjeti (@esaagar) June 18, 2018
2/ Source also told us many illegals are posing as citizens of non-contiguous countries to bolster false asylum claims and that all children have been coached w/ the exact same script. DHS officials confirmed to us that these practices are widespread. https://t.co/SHXEqzB0pS pic.twitter.com/2qxsvqG4UT— Saagar Enjeti (@esaagar) June 18, 2018
As The Federalist's John Daniel Davidson reports that under the previous system, migrants who brought children and are seeking asylum were released into the public.
2/ What few outlets are reporting is that prior to this family separation policy, families caught crossing illegally that tried to claim asylum were released within a few days. The parents were given ankle monitors and told to report to an asylum hearing months away.— John Daniel Davidson (@johnddavidson) June 18, 2018
"Almost all these families would be headed for somewhere north of the border, as far north as New York and Pennsylvania," Davidson continued. "When they got to where they were going, they'd usually cut the ankle monitor off. Few would ever show up to the asylum hearing."
Davidson then makes the key point: "What's missing in the coverage so far is any kind of nuance or granularity about what the options are for families caught crossing illegally. Releasing them w/ankle monitors is a de facto open borders policy. Separating families is inhumane and cruel. Both are undesirable."
The Misleading Media
This issue, as you may be starting to notice, is much more complex than the media is letting on. Americans who rely on the mainstream media for their information are likely of the belief that it's a Trump Administration policy to automatically separate children from their parents. Yet, that's clearly not the case.
But rather than helping to educate voters on what's really going on, the major media is doing its best to stoke hysteria. Here, without further ado, are the six worst examples:
6. CNN contributor and former National Security Adviser Michael Hayden likens America's border security policy to ... the holocaust. First, he did so in a tweet, then defended that tweet in an appearance on CNN, and then triple-downed on the comparison Monday night:
Hayden: "I showed the picture in 1944, but my story is Berlin 1933. You had a new government in power with a cult of personality, a cult of nativism, a cult of untruth, a cult where it was acceptable to punish the marginalized segments of society. I’m not saying our needle is in the red. I’m not saying we’re becoming Nazis. What I was trying to say was the needle is moving in the wrong direction. The way I described it to myself before I hit send was, the skies are darkening. I want to send up a flare."
5. The Washington Post's Wesley Lowery likens America's immigration policy to slavery:
LOWERY: “When you look at this historically throughout American history, no matter of the policy you’re talking about, the separation of families has always been something that speaks to a level of inhumanity. You go back to slavery, and this is what the abolitionists were arguing for, and one of the reasons eventually that public opinion shifted was that one of the reasons this cannot be just, is that we can’t justify splitting these families up in all of these different ways. And so when you look at our immigration policy and other groups of immigrants previously, as we grappled with centuries of immigration policy, the division and the splitting of our families has always been be a line that the public has not been comfortable with, no matter how potentially demagogued or stereotyped the group of immigrants may have been."
4. MSNBC contributor Zerlina Maxwell argued that if Central and South Americans were white, the Trump administration wouldn't be doing this. (Note: Per the U.S. government, Hispanics are considered white.)
MAXWELL: “Correct. It’s also their choice. This is intentional cruelty. Something they are doing deliberately. They are making a choice to separate babies from their mothers. They are doing that as an inhumane policies, because the people are brown. We also have to talk about the fact this is a racist policy. If these children were white, we would not be doing this.”
3. MSNBC's Mike Barnicle employed a now-familiar rhetorical device, claiming that the White House was taking children "hostage":
BARNICLE: “This is our story. The story of children being taken hostage on a hot Texas landscape, held in cages, away from their parents, being used as pawns to get money to build a wall, by a Republican Party whose policy is to separate them from their families, from their mothers and their fathers. That’s our story in America today. And it’s up to the people of America and the people who represent them in Congress to decide whether that’s the story they want to go with. And politically, Michael, I would estimate, think, guess, that it’s political malpractice. With a booming economy, with no matter what you think of what took place in Singapore, a president meeting with the North Korean dictator to resolve some nuclear issues and the threat of war, they’re not concentrating on that. They’re being branded now with these pictures that every American is seeing. The pictures now coming with a soundtrack of children crying and that’s what they’re defending rather than their record, which some people would approve of.”
2. CNBC's John Harwood said Republicans are simply interested in trying to prevent "more non-white people" from entering the country:
HARWOOD: "We have a president who is not honest, who lacks a moral sense, who lacks empathy. And what he is trying to do is deflect blame for a policy that he has caused to happen. And to do it while leading a party whose core appeal right now is to white people about resisting cultural and economic changes in the country, that have made the country more diverse. The immigration issue has been hot in our politics for more than ten years now. But President Trump has taken it to a level that George W. Bush would find unrecognizable. Because the cruelty that is being inflicted by this policy is something that the administration has chosen to do deliberately. And it's not stopping it, because the core impulse in this party right now is to prevent the United States from becoming more diverse and having more nonwhite people in the country.
1. CNN reporter Brian Karem threw a tantrum during a White House press briefing. He made a spectacle, screaming at Sarah Huckabee Sanders, "You're a parent, don't you have any empathy?!" Even CNN's Brian Stelter said the performance wasn't helpful, telling him on his Reliable Sources show Sunday that "you came across as a caricature."
KAREM: “Don’t you have any empathy? Come on, Sarah. You’re a parent. Don’t you have any empathy for what these people are going through?”
HUCKABEE SANDERS: “Brian, settle down. I’m trying to be serious, but I’m not going to have you yell out of turn.”
KAREM: “You’re telling us it’s the law and these people have nothing.”
HUCKABEE SANDERS: “I know you want to get some more TV time, but that’s not what this is about. I’m not going to recognize you.”
KAREM: “Answer the question. It’s a serious question. These people have nothing. They come to the border with nothing and you throw children in cages. You’re a parent. You’re a parent of young children. Don’t you have any empathy for what they go through?”
HUCKABEE SANDERS: “Jill, go ahead.”