Media Inflames Child Immigrant Problem

Immigrant children at the "Ursula" Detention Center in McAllen, Texas

Immigrant children at the 'Ursula' Detention Center in McAllen, Texas
Earlier this month the mainstream media decided to hype the plight of illegal child immigrants, but what most news outlets failed to report is that families from Central America have been sneaking into the United States for years, and, under President Obama, were often deported. No doubt President Trump’s Zero Tolerance Policy (prosecution over deportation) has increased the number of illegals coming through our system. Moreover, by doing so, he has forced detention centers to care for a larger number of immigrant children, some of whom, under federal law, had to be separated from a parent awaiting trial. The optics of this mess have been terrible because it is never a good thing to separate a child from his parents. But the news media’s crusade to change public policy has been tainted by their own inflammatory and inaccurate reporting.


When their crusade began, it was fueled by a photo of a crying immigrant child with his little hands poking through what appeared to be a wire cage. That image went viral, and the little boy became the poster child for the evils of Trump’s inhumane policies. The only problem is that the little boy wasn’t an illegal immigrant being held in a cage, and he wasn’t crying for his mother. In reality the photo had been taken at an anti-Trump rally, and the “cage” was a security fence erected by police to protect protestors. Then there was last week’s TIME magazine cover which depicted Donald Trump standing over an illegal immigrant child who had been separated from her family. But guess what? The girl’s father, Denis Valera, came forward and said that his daughter was with her mother and had never been separated. The father’s story was confirmed by Nelly Jerez, the Honduran Deputy Foreign Minister.


CNN’s John Berman reported that 2,000 immigrant children had been separated from their families in recent weeks. Not true. In fact, according to, 83% of the people who crossed our border illegally were unaccompanied minors. The other 17% included some children who came here with an adult who may or may not have been their parent. Of those, some were separated from their parent only if that parent had been arrested and is awaiting trial. (That’s the same process we follow with our own citizens when there is no other family member to take care of a child whose parent has been charged with a crime). Also, since very few of the illegal immigrant adults have proof that they are, in fact, the parent of a child, it is incumbent upon ICE to separate children from adults in the detention facilities, in order to prevent abuse or trafficking. Berman and other CNN anchors also said that babies were being stripped away from their mothers. But CNN’s own field correspondent, Diann Gallager witnessed moms with infants and dads with infants. Gallager toured processing and detention facilities in Texas and Florida, and reported that, at the Homestead Florida center, less than 7% of the children had actually been separated from someone they said was a parent.


Elected officials, political activists, and the media have painted a picture of illegal immigrant children being traumatized and placed in horrendous facilities. Former CIA director, General Michael Hayden compared Trump’s detention of immigrant children to Hitler’s treatment of the Jews. Former First Lady Laura Bush and others, compared the ICE detention centers to the internment camps we built during WWII to detain Japanese American citizens. Such comparisons are shameful. CNN’s own Gallager and others have reported that immigrant children are being housed in buildings that look like old elementary schools, and they sleep in dormitory areas. The kids receive six hours of schooling every day, plus daily group counseling, and weekly individual counseling. They also meet daily with their case worker who is assisting them in either re-uniting with their parent, or temporarily placing them in a loving home. These children are well clothed, well fed, and safe from abuse.


Critics of Trump’s Zero Tolerance Policy say that the families and unaccompanied children who came here illegally from Central America, were in fear for their lives, and had no other choice but to break our laws and sneak in. First of all, if they feared for their lives in places like Guatemala, Honduras, or Nicaragua, why did they risk traveling all the way to America, when they could have taken refuge in Mexico? Second, all they had to do to escape arrest was to show up at a legal port of entry and ask for asylum. None of these people HAD to break the law. They just didn’t want to go through proper procedures to live the American dream. Simply put, they are “economic migrants”, says Steve Cortes, a member of the President’s Hispanic Advisory Council. And yet, no one in the media places blame on these immigrant parents for putting their kids at risk during a long journey, then breaking the law, and forcing us to take care of their children while they await sentencing.


Nidhi Desai, whose parents immigrated here legally, isn’t shy about categorizing people who game our system. The UNC student told, “Illegals are cheating.” Illegals also put a strain on our resources. Today there are 13 million American kids who live in poverty, and more than that who go hungry every day. 78% of all Americans still live paycheck-to-paycheck, and tens of millions of Americans can’t afford proper healthcare. Bad optics or not, we cannot allow millions of people to enter our country illegally every year. Obama initially had the right idea – deport, don’t detain.


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