June 20, 2018

Spin Cycle: Right-Wing Media Defends ICE’s Treatment of Children



Right-wing media are working overtime to defend the Trump administration’s policy of having ICE officers separate children from their parents.


By Jared Holt / 06.18.2018


Right-wing media are working overtime this week to defend the Trump administration’s policy of having U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers separate children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border and house those children in caged enclosures.

Over the course of the last week, numerous reports were published detailing the separation of children attempting to enter the country with their parents and the life-altering trauma those children, some just toddlers, endure while their parents are processed in separate facilities.  As a result, Democrats have been demanding resignations and calling on the Trump administration to change the policy, which has prompted right-wing activists to swing into action in defense of the policy.

Laura Ingraham said that people expressing concern and outrage over children being detained in cages was “hilarious.” Ann Coulter went the Infowars route, choosing to cite a nonexistent New Yorker article to allege that the children speaking to media about the way ICE has treated their families were “child actors.” Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh said, “This children and families being separated at the border? It is an entirely manufactured crisis. It’s entirely manufactured … It’s all about people attempting to invade our country, not emigrate here.” Similarly, Infowars called the mistreatment of migrant children “a giant hoax.”

Conservative pundit and Daily Wire founder Ben Shapiro wrote that “Trump isn’t forcing children away from parents,” but is merely “enforcing the law on the books.” He continued, “Pretending that this is Japanese internment (as Laura Bush suggested) or the Holocaust (as General Michael Hayden suggested) is ridiculous.”

Senior Breitbart News investigative reporter Joel Pollak appeared on Breitbart’s morning radio program today and said that the children being held in cages at detainment centers are actually experiencing a better quality of life than they had before.

“These holding centers and shelters are better than what kids had before. That’s the grim reality of it. For example, Alex [Marlow], when they go to these shelters, the kids are given toiletries like toothbrushes. They’re taught how to brush their teeth. Many of them do not know how to brush their teeth. They’re taught how to use a flush toilet. Many have never seen a flush toilet before. They’re taught how to use the shower. Many have never used a shower before. This is not a concentration camp. This is a shelter where these kids are given basic care,” Pollak said.

Online, Pollak attempted to deride the Associated Press for describing “chain-link partitions” as “cages,” though it is hard to think of what another term one should use to describe them. Earlier in the show, Dan Gainor of the Media Research Center told listeners that liberals only care about children “as a club to use against conservatives.” Breitbart was even desperate enough that it sent one of its reporters to talk to Infowars.

National Review author Rich Lowry wrote that although “there is obviously a moral cost to separating a parent from a child and almost everyone would prefer not to do it,” not doing so “creates an incentive for people to keep bringing children with them.”

Federation for American Immigration Reform president Dan Stein told Fox News Business host Neil Cavuto that the child separation policy was “about protecting the children, making sure that they’re actually coming across with people who are truly their parents.” He also added that “some of this is deterrence” meant to lower the number of people attempting to immigrate into the country.

YourVoice America host Leigh Mitchell was more direct with her belief that immigrants crossing the southern border are “unclean, they’re murderers, they’re treacherous, they’re God-haters.” One News Now’s Michael Haverluck wrote that “illegal immigrant youth are victimized, oppressed and forced to live in squalid conditions” and that “they are treated better by the U.S. government than disadvantaged American children.” Jesse Lee Peterson said that officials should “dump these lawyers [defending undocumented immigrants] across the border as well.”

Right-wing pastor Bryan Fischer said that separating children from their parents was the “compassionate” thing to do because “we do not want children in our prisons.”

“If you’re looking at a detention center, virtually a prison, you’ve got people in there—you’ve got a lot of bad actors in there that have bad intentions for vulnerable young children. You’ve got to protect vulnerable young children from the type of people that are in these custodial situations,” Fischer said.

Family Research Council president Tony Perkins published a press release blaming the parents of immigrant children for “knowingly put them in this position”:

Obviously, the situation is a tragic one for thousands of children, who are the innocent victims of their moms’ and dads’ decision to break the law. It’s impossible to feel anything but compassion for these kids, who must be dealing with a great deal of pain and confusion. But the origin of that pain and confusion isn’t U.S. law or the Trump administration. That burden lies with their parents who knowingly put them in this position.

[…]

Let’s also consider the precedent it would create if we didn’t enforce the law. Are liberals suggesting that we shouldn’t incarcerate anyone who has kids? Are children the new get-out-of-jail-free card?

Religious Right radio host Sandy Rios used the news to warn her listeners that “we are being constantly propagandized.” She said that “the way you think about things is being shaped on purpose by what we call narratives” and that “the narrative here” is meant to make people believe Trump is racist.


Originally published by Right Wing Watch, a project of People for the American Way, a program of Open Society Foundations, under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported license.

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