On Friday, The New York Times reported the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) had “lost 1,500 immigrant children” – a story which unsurprisingly sparked righteous indignation and vitriolic attacks on the Trump administration. Social media moralists added fuel to the fire by aggressively pushing the tale on Twitter. The hashtags #WhereAreTheChildren and #MissingChildren were born and they were, by Saturday evening, the trending topics. One problem – the outrage is manufactured, and the “facts” are not factual.
The Times piece was based on testimony at a Senate hearinglast month by HHS official Steven Wagner that of the 7,635 unaccompanied minor children (UAC) which HHS’s Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) tried to contact, they were “unable to determine with certainty the whereabouts” of 1,475 children.
On Monday (well after the media lit the first match), Deputy Secretary Eric Hargan issued a statementcalling the reports “completely false.” In addition, it was only since 2016 that the ORR implemented the voluntary policy of making follow-up calls to UAC sponsors to inquire whether “additional services” were needed.
Hargan noted that some family members “simply did not respond” to voluntary calls and “in many cases sponsors cannot be reached because they themselves are illegal aliens and do not want to be reached by federal authorities.”
You could say, in the language of open border supporters, they could not be located because they were “hiding in the shadows” from authorities. A 2016 HHS inspector general report found 4,159 UACs were unaccounted for, but that was “missing” from many news reports.
When the media were not getting one story straight, they were conflating the issue of unaccompanied minors and those children separated from the parents after attempting an illegal border crossing or submitting an asylum claim.
Case in point was Arizona Republic opinion contributor EJ Montini, who suggestedthe Trump administration should have laid out a “plan to adequately protect the children” before “announcing a plan to separate more children from families.
The best example of missing the target resulted from the circulation of an article about the housing of UACs. Several photos of children sitting in fenced areas set Twitter ablaze with couch potato commentators accusing the Trump administration of abuse and inhumane detention.
The fact is the pictures were taken in 2014 by journalists who were granted access by the Customs Border Police (CPB) in order to clear up rumors of mistreatment.
“The tour dispelled rumors of ill treatment. The CBP agents in the building seem to be genuinely compassionate in their interactions with the children. The facility is clean and air-conditioned,” observed the reporter.
Onlynow is The New York Timesthrowing water on the fires they lit over the weekend, albeit with the compulsory slam at President Trump.
“But the president is not the only one spreading wrong information. Across social media, there have been confusing reports of what happened to these immigrant children,” admitted an article postedon the paper’s website.
Unlike a child who learns from getting burned, the media and amnesty advocates will not hesitate to light the match again in an effort to burn the Trump administration.