From “concentration camps” to welfare centric “detention centers,” migrant children are back in custody, but, don’t worry, it’s only because Biden is new to the job, even as his administration actually reopens camps that were closed under Trump. Meaning, there will be more kids in cages, get used to it.
Earlier this week, the Biden Administration re-opened a tent facility in Carrizo Springs, Texas to house approximately 700 migrant children. The facility had been closed by former President Trump in 2019, but now it’s back in business and the U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) said on Monday that the first teenagers already arrived. CNN preemptively white-washed the development, bypassing the irony that Biden was reopening a facility Trump closed, writing that this was about preparing an “overflow facility for migrant children” and cautioning that “Trump policies can’t all be reversed quickly.”
There was precious little moral outrage, no comparisons to concentration camps, and none of the drama associated with the same developments under the Trump administration, even as CNN noted that the number of people arriving at the border is increasing, possibly due to a “perceived possible relaxation of enforcement,” whatever that means. Is the relaxation both perceived and possible? Or is it perceived as possible? It’s impossible to say, except they also noted, “Moves to increase capacity and shelter for migrants are indicative of one of the looming challenges for the Biden administration — more migrants at the border — but also signal a shift from the Trump administration’s posture of turning everyone away.”
These teenagers are in addition to the 7,100 beds already operated by HHS, and the 700 beds operated by the Border Patrol at another reopened facility. This puts the number of migrant children in government custody under the Biden administration at around 8,000, at least that we know of. Axios, not exactly a conservative outfit, reports that “Making matters worse, border crossings usually peak in the spring, and it’s only February.” In addition, the Biden Administration hasn’t strictly been following the rules, “more than 200 had been held in these Border Patrol stations for more than 48 hours. Nine had been detained for longer than the agreed-upon limit of 72 hours, according to the internal document, which timestamped the data current as of 8:15 a.m. on Feb. 21.”
Four months, ago, however, Joe Biden was singing a completely different tune.
At the second and final Presidential Debate in October, then-candidate Biden claimed detaining migrant children, “violates every notion of who we are as a nation.” “Their kids were ripped from their arms and separated…now those kids are alone, nowhere to go, nowhere to go. It’s criminal,” he added. At the time, Trump noted, “The children are brought here by coyotes and lots of bad people, cartels, and they’re brought here and they used to use them to get into our country,” explaining that the children are “are so well taken care of. They’re in facilities that were so clean, that have gotten such good…” at which point Biden interrupted him to harangue the policy.
Of course, the Biden Administration is now saying the hospitality offered at these “detention centers” matters a lot. Mark Weber, a spokesperson for HHS told The Washington Post that “the Biden administration is moving away from the ‘law-enforcement focused’ approach of the Trump administration to one in which child welfare is more centric,” again whatever that means. Are they enforcing the law? They don’t say.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki insists, “this is not kids being kept in cages,” except they’re also saying “unaccompanied teens sent to the Carrizo Springs shelter will not be allowed to leave the facility.” Doesn’t that mean they’re effectively locked in jail?
For the most part, the mainstream media is buying into the story. The Washington Post describes the site almost like a summer camp, all bright colors and rainbows. Seriously, “groups of beige trailers encircle a giant white dining tent, a soccer field and a basketball court. There is a bright blue hospital tent with white bunk beds inside. A legal services trailer has the Spanish word ‘Bienvenidos,’ or welcome, on a banner on its roof. There are trailers for classrooms, a barber shop, a hair salon.”
Sounds like fun, right?
Of course, this is not what the media and Democrat politicians were saying under Trump. Back then, the kids in cages meme, complete with pictures of kids that were actually in cages under the Obama administration, was a case study in “what sort of place we really want America to be” according to Julio Ricardo Varela, writing for NBC News Think series. The situation at the border was “one of the country’s most horrific moral stains,” and Trump’s brand of immigration reform was one which “cages babies like dogs in freezing cold warehouses and celebrates that the cages are clean.”
Ironically, this was after Mr. Varela acknowledged that the camps were actually built under President Obama.
“Who built the cages, Joe?,” Trump demanded at the debate. “Who built the cages, Joe?” Mr Valera noted that “Trump was factually correct in reminding Biden that cages were part of an embarrassing Obama administration get-tough policy in 2014 that also dehumanized migrants as part of a mass detention policy.” Mr. Varela was simply willing to accept Biden’s apology and admission he made a mistake, one he is now repeating with no word from Mr. Valera. “Biden admitted to a national television audience that what happened under President Barack Obama was a mistake — and it was actually the first thing he said when asked about the Obama administration’s culpability for the current situation. ‘Because we made a mistake,’ he told the moderator Kristen Welker. ‘It took too long to get it right.’”
Lest you think I’m just picking on NBC News, The Atlantic blared “The Detention Camps at the Border are a Crime.” The Nation reported that “President Trump Has Legalized Concentration Camps,” claiming “Day by day, Trump’s team is finding newer and ever uglier ways to lock down America, to make us all complicit in acts that ought to be considered crimes against humanity.” The New York Times opined on “Trump’s Concentration Camps,” claiming the “cruelty must not be tolerated.” Esquire magazines quoted Andrea Pitzer, author of One Long Night: A Global History of Concentration Camps, claiming “Things can be concentration camps without being Dachau or Auschwitz.”
Left leaning politicians also got in on the act. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said on Instagram, “The United States is running concentration camps on our southern border, and that is exactly what they are – they are concentration camps. And if that doesn’t bother you … I want to talk to the people that are concerned enough with humanity to say that we should not, that ‘never again’ means something.” Later, she told CNN, “I believe we also have made sure that we explicitly use the term ‘concentration camp’ and we have to learn from the slow process, the slow dehumanizing process that leads to horrible things happening to people.” AOC even went to the border and filmed it, saying she “confronted border officers herself.”
Confronted with the Biden Administration operating the very same camps, she was far more restrained. “This is not okay, never has been okay, never will be okay – no matter the administration or party,” she tweeted earlier this week, but then she dodged. “It’s only 2 mos into this admin & our fraught, unjust immigration system will not transform in that time. DHS shouldn’t exist, agencies should be reorganized, ICE gotta go, ban for-profit detention, create climate refugee status & more.”
Here we get to the crux of the matter: The problem isn’t the Obama, Trump, or Biden Administrations, all of which have deployed some form of “concentration camp” to use the now forgotten parlance of the Trump era. The real problem is that reality can’t be waved away with rhetoric. If a country has borders, everyone coming through the border will need to be stopped. Those with valid visas will be allowed in, those without will necessarily need to be dealt with in some fashion while we determine if they should be allowed in, as refugees, with a temporary status, etc.
The question then becomes how we deal with this group. Of course, we can just let them all in, but that means we essentially have no border. If you believe we have a border, they must be detained in some fashion. If they are to be detained, however briefly, children cannot be kept with adults and need to be housed separately. Therefore, if we are to have a border, some form of this detention policy will necessarily need to occur. There is no alternative. This is the reality every administration must confront.
There are, of course, permutations. Trump chose to treat immigration offenses as crimes and charge the parents. This decision increased the number of children detained while their parents were processed; this drives the claim that Trump had a child separation policy. Obama and now Biden have not been that aggressive, but there are still children coming in alone and children coming in with non-family members, smugglers, and coyotes. These children end up in camps until we find somewhere to place them.
The Trump Administration found a creative way to deal with this problem: The migrants stayed in Mexico until their status could be considered. This effectively ended the caravans and the endless flow of people across the border, emptying out the cages and allowing them to close these facilities. Critics, of course, claimed that wasn’t satisfactory either. The “Remain in Mexico Policy,” technically named “Migrant Protection Protocols,” ultimately made it to the Supreme Court where it was ruled legal.
The Trump Administration declared it “a major victory” and said the policy “has prevented dangerous chaos at the southern border, avoided a significant escalation in public health threats, and mitigated damage to foreign relations.” Judy Rabinovitz, special counsel in the American Civil Liberties Union’s Immigrants’ Rights Project didn’t agree, saying “Asylum seekers face grave danger and irreversible harm every day this depraved policy remains in effect.”
Notice how they are never asked which is more depraved: Keeping the migrants out until we are sure they are clear to come in, or detaining them here until we are sure they are cleared to come in. One is “depraved” the other is a “moral stain.” It seems like the only policy that would satisfy Ms. Rabinovitz is open borders, which of course is what this is really about.
They won’t come out and say it, but there is on other alternative. If we can’t keep migrants out or detain them, what can we do?
The Biden Administration plans to detain them, at least for now while he works to end the Remain in Mexico Policy and reduce the number of deportations. Sadly, these incentives will surely lead to an increase in the number of arrivals, meaning there will be more kids in cages and the resultant reopening of more facilities like this, not less under a Democrat in office. CNN said so themselves. Where’s the outrage?