ICE Holds Kids for Safety Today, but Obama Held Them for Literal Punishment in 2015


The American left is in conniptions about the fact that the Trump administration is currently housing minors whose parents have been arrested for illegally entering the United States in facilities where the children are kept safe, fed and clothed while their cases are being adjudicated.

They’re not being kept in there as any sort of punishment, or discipline better meted out to the men and women who dragged them along into the United States in the first place.

Not every administration has felt that this was the appropriate way to deal with minors who have crossed into the country illegally, however — and regular readers likely won’t be surprised at which previous administration decided to take a punitive bent.

Regular readers will be even less surprised to discover just what level of concern members of the media had regarding these measures.

“Last spring, as Central American children flooded into Texas in a way he had never seen in his three-decade career, Border Patrol agent Robert Harris decided to experiment,” The Washington Post reported in March of 2015 in an article titled, “Mexican kids held for months as punishment for border-crossing.”

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“His intelligence analysts estimated that 78 percent of the guides smuggling other migrants were Mexicans younger than 18 — teenagers often hired or conscripted by drug cartels that knew they would not be prosecuted if caught — and he wanted to attack this loophole.

“‘Why don’t we remove these juveniles from the smuggling cycle?’ Harris, the outgoing commander of the Laredo sector of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, recalled thinking.

“Now, as a result of that decision, young Mexicans are being held for months without charge in shelters across the United States, sometimes without their parents’ knowledge. Since the program began in May, 536 juveniles have been held — 248 of whom have been deported to Mexico after an average stay of 75 days, according to Border Patrol statistics. Mexican authorities say some of these repeat border-crossers have spent as much as six months in U.S. custody while they await an appearance before an immigration judge.”

This, mind you, was during a period shortly after the 2014 illegal immigration crisis, during which scenes of children in cages — improperly attributed to the Trump administration — were apparently commonplace due to detention.

And yet, this is all from The Washington Post — a paper where, for the last few weeks, you can almost see the tears flowing off of the newsprint as if it were some sort of lachrymose religious statue. Contrast the matter-of-fact tone of the WaPo back in 2015 to the febrile reporting we’ve seen since the middle of May.

And it’s not like we’re talking about issues that aren’t analogous to each other. Read this paragraph from the Post story and see if it sounds familiar:

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“During their detention, they are questioned by U.S. authorities and then transferred to a network of facilities run by the Office of Refugee Resettlement, part of the Department of Health and Human Services, across 15 states. While confined, they undergo psychological evaluations and take English courses. Some are allowed tourist-type activities, such as going to the beach or museums, according to Mexican consular officials in Texas. At least one youth earned a high school general equivalency diploma.”

These are, more or less, the exact same conditions that the media have suddenly decided constitute a human rights crisis in 2018.

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Yet, back in 2015, buried several paragraphs down was a notice that the Obama administration’s practice “has worried human rights groups and some Mexican officials who fear that it puts the children at risk. They view it as a way for U.S. authorities to gather intelligence about cartels and think it endangers the children who could be targeted as informants when they return to Mexico. Some question the legality of the extended detentions.”

In 2018, it’s not like there’s any less suspicion of cartel involvement. Far from it: Many so-called “parents” appearing with children at the border seem to know suspiciously little about their progeny. The New York Times has reported that some “have admitted to posing falsely with children who are not their own, and Border Patrol officials say that such instances of fraud are increasing,” in part because “they believed it would cause the authorities to release them from custody sooner.”

There hasn’t been any moral awakening in the intervening three years — just a different president, of a different party, and one the legacy media has declared war on.

So, when President Obama’s Border Patrol initiated a program that punished minors for crossing the border, either with adults or without them, only cursory attention was paid to the problematic aspects.

When it comes to Trump’s administration separating children while their case is adjudicated without an eye toward punishment, however, cue the full-blown outrage, complete with Samantha Bee and Kathy Griffin leading a vulgar parade of celebrities and media gadabouts substituting vicious emotion for logic.

What a difference three years makes, in so many ways.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture