“Kids In Cages: Democrats and Republicans spar over how to deal with unaccompanied minors detained while trying to enter the country illegally. Here’s what both sides are saying. To have stories like this and more delivered directly to your inbox, be sure to sign up for our newsletter. Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore.
Top Story: “Kids in Cages”
Brett Samuels, writing for The Hill, reports: “The White House on Tuesday defended the reopening of a facility at the southern border to house migrant teenagers, insisting it was a temporary measure necessitated by the pandemic.
The Biden administration reopened the facility in Carrizo Springs, Texas to house up to 700 migrants ages 13 to 17, the Department of Health and Human Services announced late Monday, with the first unaccompanied children arriving the same day.” Here’s what both sides are saying:
On The Right
The right describes a budding problem at the US border that they believe is a direct result of policies championed by the Biden administration. They also scold the media for pushing favorable coverage of Biden’s child detention policy, which they view as no different than the very same policies the media and then-candidate Biden attacked throughout the Trump presidency.
Writing for Hot Air, Karen Townsend provides context for the current policy. She explains that “During the Obama administration, detention centers called holding facilities were built along the southern border to manage the surges of migrants looking to cross. Unaccompanied migrant minors pose a different challenge than migrant families or adults. By law, once unaccompanied children are stopped by the border patrol, they have 72 hours to transfer the children to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). HHS then puts them in a shelter, and they find placement for them somewhere in the United States.” The facility in Carrizo Springs is called an overflow shelter and is now open again because “the number of unaccompanied minors trying to illegally cross the US-Mexico border is rising quickly” and “they must be housed somewhere when they are caught and detained.” This is currently occurring, as “Coyotes are taking advantage of families and encouraging them to send their children because the Biden administration promises to implement a kinder, gentler approach to illegal immigration.” Despite its similar use during the current and prior administrations, Townsend sees the Carrizo facility receiving dramatically different media coverage this time around. As she puts it, “Suddenly, kids in cages isn’t a thing but warm and fuzzy childrens’ facilities are opening.” As far as the possibility of fair coverage goes, she writes that she’s not “holding [her] breath now that there is a Democrat back in the White House.”
In The New York Post, Steven Nelson echoes Townsend, observing that “One person’s ‘kids in cages’ is another’s ‘reopening overflow facilities.’” Nelson points to Democrats like New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, who referred to a comparable facility as a “prison camp,” and NY Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez calling detention centers at the southern border “concentration camps.” Trump repeatedly inquired during the final presidential debate, “Who built the cages, Joe?” after facing criticism for “a large warehouse detention center in McAllen, Texas, that opened in 2014 when Biden was vice president.”
Writing for Fox News, Angelica Stabile states, “Biden’s new open-border policy has encouraged a spike in illegal immigration, notably in the number of immigrants under the age of 18 attempting to cross into the US.” She also summarizes Sean Hannity, who points out that “The separation of adults from children at the border began under the Obama administration in 2014, and chain-link fences were always in the picture.” However, Hannity doesn’t think the truth matters “to the media mob, to Democrats, to Big Tech companies.” He concludes that “They only seem to care about smearing, slandering, besmirching, attacking Donald Trump every second, minute, hour of every day.”
Commentators on the right strongly believe that Biden’s policies are creating an emerging problem at the border and that the bulk of the national media fail in their duty to cover the story through an impartial lens.
On The Left
While the left also worries about a tricky migrant situation developing at the border, they are split over the child detention issue. The progressive wing of the party criticizes the Biden administration for instituting policies similar to Trump, while the president’s defenders make the case that the current policy is nothing like his predecessor’s.
In The Washington Post, Aaron Blake quotes an activist who “worries that Biden won’t make the situation better than it has been in the past” but who says she “consoled [herself] with the fact that it was considered the Cadillac of [migrant child] centers.” Blake differentiates the Biden policy from Trump’s by noting that “Trump’s policy on children at the border wasn’t controversial merely because it resulted in children being held at the border, which is a long-standing reality and is what will happen at this facility. It was controversial because it forced children to be separated from their parents given its hard-line policy requiring that the parents be held and not released into the country (and given that children couldn’t be held with their parents).” Blake believes “Part of the reason for the current surge in both families and unaccompanied minors arriving without authorization appears to be [the Biden administration’s] softer approach to enforcement, which gives border-crossers more hope that they’ll be allowed into the country.” Thus, Blake predicts a challenging period ahead for the Biden administration that will “surely test the president in the months and years to come.” However, Blake makes clear that “Suggesting that this is at all akin to what Trump did with children on the border — or that the media is soft-pedaling what the Biden administration is doing — just doesn’t add up.”
Moustafa Bayoumi takes issue with The Washington Post’s attempt to differentiate the current administration’s policy from that of the previous administration. In The Guardian, he argues that “Unaccompanied migrant children deserve compassion, not detention. But rather than seeking out new and better solutions, the Biden administration is instead trying to sell us an image of a kinder, gentler imprisonment.” He accuses the Biden administration of using language that “hides the brute reality of detention and covers it up with the rosy rhetoric of summer camp.” Bayoumi says, “The Biden administration seeks to deflect the criticism by assuring us their version of childhood detention is thoughtful and humane, even while opening a facility where kids are delivered in unmarked vans to an internment camp that is geographically remote and difficult to access.” Bayoumi concludes by acknowledging that “The Biden administration has a difficult road ahead” and warning that “Expanding a long discredited system that detains children cannot be the answer, no matter how good the government wants to make it sound.”
The more progressive wing of the Democratic party concurs with Bayoumi. In Newsweek, Aila Slisco quotes Democratic Representative Illhar Omar from Minnesota, who Tweeted that “Multiple administrations have made the callous choice to lock up thousands of children seeking refuge in the United States of America.” Slisco follows up by referencing Omar’s colleague, NY Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who she quotes as advocating for a “bold reimagination” of immigration policy, “suggesting that the Department of Homeland Security ‘shouldn’t exist,’ for-profit detention should be made illegal, and US Immigration and Customs Enforcement should be abolished.”
To summarize, the left is split. Some believe Biden’s policies are much better than Trump’s. Others like Bayoumi take issue with the media’s perceived double-standards. Finally the far-left wing of the party appears to be as agitated as conservatives, although not exactly for the same reasons.
Flag This: “Kids in Cages”
According to a Morning Consult/Politico poll on President Biden’s performance in areas of importance to voters, only 47% of the electorate approves of the way he is handling immigration. Of that, 39% disapprove (30% “strongly”) and only 26% “strongly approve.” Only his handling of “gun policy” polls lower at 40%, and these numbers fall well short of his 56% overall approval rating. Outside of healthcare and economic issues related to the pandemic, immigration is quickly shaping up to be one of Biden’s trickiest policies to tackle.
Flag Poll: What Do You Think?
Do you think the Biden Administration’s immigration policies, especially as they relate to unaccompanied minors, are better, worse, or the same as the Trump Administration’s? Share your thoughts in the comments below.