It’s always telling when The Washington Post is running interference for any Democrat, especially Joe Biden.
You can grok a lot of things from the headline alone, for instance. This one was pretty bad: “No, Biden’s new border move isn’t like Trump’s ‘kids in cages.'”
The fact that The Post even has to tell anyone this — much less its own readers, who turn to the paper as much for confirmation bias as they do for information — is a sign things don’t look good.
The kerfuffle involves a recently re-opened detention center in Carrizo Springs, Texas, for unaccompanied minors arriving illegally at the border. The camp was previously operated for only a month in 2019 before it was shut down due to a dropoff in illegal immigration, Vice News reported at the time.
There’s been a recent surge due to the Biden administration’s immigration policies and the facility needed to be pressed back into action.
Activists aren’t entirely happy.
In The Post’s first story on the matter, filed on Monday, “multiculturalism reporter” Sylvia Foster-Frau noted “immigration lawyers and advocates question why the Biden administration would choose to reopen a Trump-era facility that was the source of protests and controversy.” It’s the first facility for illegal immigrants opened under President Joe Biden.
“It’s unnecessary, it’s costly, and it goes absolutely against everything Biden promised he was going to do,” San Antonio-based immigration lawyer Linda Brandmiller told The Post.
“It’s a step backward, is what it is. It’s a huge step backward.”
I’m not sure what Brandmiller or other activists were expecting, but I guess it wasn’t this:
These are pictures from the Carrizo Springs facility. Yes, it was widely considered one of the best of the existing detention facilities. But it’s still a jail at the end of the day, & keeping children there for any extended period is a crime. Things don’t have to be like this. https://t.co/lggYYGkGt4 pic.twitter.com/qnuP2CoLTq
— Sturgeon’s Law (@Sturgeons_Law) February 23, 2021
I’m not going to argue semantics. It’s a detention center. Anything that is designed as such can be argued to be a prison. These are images of the Carrizo Springs detention center that we’re talking about. This is why I said your solution is functionally the same pic.twitter.com/7u3pUGvzvn
— Eldritch (@EldritchProctor) February 23, 2021
Amnesty International was similarly appalled.
“A government agency is not a parent for children. The reality is that children who are alone need to be accommodated for their safety while the government identifies and reunites them with appropriate sponsors. We don’t want to endanger children and we don’t want them held in detention or in facilities that don’t meet their best interests,” Denise Bell, researcher for refugee and migrant rights at Amnesty International USA, said in a news release.
“Kids need a place to call home — that’s why they should be with their families, friends, and community members; this in the child’s best interests. Children must only be held in Border Patrol stations for the bare minimum time, and certainly not for more than 72 hours, which are wholly inappropriate spaces for them, and they must continue to have access to safety in the United States.”
This being Amnesty International, they’re not going to provide specifics on how to make this happen. That’s someone else’s job, after all.
The Carrizo Springs center is overseen by the Department of Health and Human Services, not by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and is considered a temporary influx center, not a long-term detention facility. The goal is to unite these children with sponsors already in the United States, but that takes time to clear — certainly more than 72 hours.
Mark Weber, a spokesman for HHS, said Carrizo Springs would “meet or exceed” Texas licensing standards, according to The Post, which led to this activist rejoinder on Twitter:
Question for @HHSGov if Carrizo Springs child detention facility would “meet or exceed” state standards, why not prove it and seek TX state child welfare approval?
Asking for thousands of children.
— Kathryn Hampton (@Kathryn_Opal) February 23, 2021
The goal is to have the children remain at the center for roughly 30 days, although they’ve already been quarantined at other facilities. The Department of Health and Human Services said the minors at Carrizo would end up being in the system for 42 days on average.
The point isn’t whether this constitutes “kids in cages.” For the most part, what opponents of the Trump administration’s immigration policy didn’t get — or couldn’t acknowledge — is that “kids in cages” didn’t actually mean “kids in cages,” either. Nor did they get, or couldn’t acknowledge, that the infamous photos showing “kids in cages” were taken during the Obama administration. (“Who built the cages, Joe?” Trump famously asked during one of the presidential debates.)
The Trump administration merely stopped the “catch-and-release” policy whereby illegal immigrant individuals or families were released pending adjudication of their case. However, because of the so-called Flores settlement in the 1990s, children couldn’t be held for more than 20 days. There were also cases involving unaccompanied minors — up to a quarter of whom don’t show up for court hearings if released to relatives or sponsors, according to the Center on Immigration Studies.
The nascent Biden administration has gone back to “catch-and-release,” but the lax immigration policies of the new administration have seen a surge of illegal immigration at the southern border, particularly among unaccompanied minors.
“The number of unaccompanied minors referred to the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement, the agency tasked with caring for them once they cross the border, climbed from 1,530 in October to 3,364 in December – a 120% jump, according to agency statistics released this week. January’s numbers were not yet available,” USA Today reported earlier this month.
“The agency usually has 13,764 beds for the minors but only 7,971 are currently available because of COVID-19 social distancing restrictions. Of those, around 5,200 are occupied, leaving 2,700 open beds, according to the resettlement agency.”
These were facts that could have been either predicted before or read about as they happened. Biden himself promised to dismantle Trump’s hard-line policies at the border during the campaign on day one, but later conceded he’d need “probably the next six months” to get the job done, according to The New York Times.
The truth is, however, that without an open-borders policy — particularly in the middle of a pandemic — there was no way for him to not break this promise.
If immigration activists think this is bad, wait to see what the demands of the next four years will bring. It’ll be worse.
There’s one sure-fire way to avoid all of this, of course, which is rigorous border security and a fair, orderly, humane way in which individuals can apply for residency or asylum. That way, you don’t have unaccompanied minors risking a dangerous journey to cross into the United States illegally — or parents who decide to bring children along on that trek because the presence of kids creates a perverse incentive that would facilitate their release.
The likelihood of something that sensible happening is virtually nil during the next four years. Thus, expect to see a lot more articles about how this really, really, really isn’t like Trump’s “kids in cages.” They swear.
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