When the Truth About Border Security Doesn’t Make The Cut

A significant portion of the media’s immigration reporting is both vague and misleading. A recent story in The Cut is a perfect example: Titled “9-Year-Old Girl Detained at Border for Providing ‘Inconsistent Information,’” it purports to call out U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) for unreasonably detaining a young child.

We’re told that Julia Isabel Amparo Medina, a U.S. citizen, was attempting to cross the U.S./Mexico border at the San Ysidro port of entry, when CBP officers took the youngster into custody and held her for over 32 hours. Of course, what The Cut glosses over is how the child attempted to cross the border and why she was detained.

Apparently, Julia and her brother Oscar Amparo Medina live in Tijuana and commute to school in the United States. On the day Julia was taken into immigration custody, a family friend named Michelle Cardenas offered to drive the Amparo Medina children to school, along with her own kids. However, when Ms. Cardenas found herself running late and in a slow-moving inspection line, she told the children to “just walk across the border.”

The Cut didn’t think that was a big deal. After all, what else should a busy transnational mom running late for the school day be expected to do? Nevertheless, what The Cut didn’t seem to grasp was how the situation might appear to CBP.

Sending children, who present stolen American passports, through a port of entry without an adult is a common smuggler’s ploy. All U.S. citizens, even unaccompanied children, are entitled to be readmitted to the United States. Children grow and change quickly enough that immigration inspectors will often disregard differences between a minor’s appearance and the photo on his/her passport. So smugglers equip foreign kids with filched U.S. citizenship documents, drop them off at a port of entry, and instruct the children to make their way through the immigration inspection line by themselves. If the kids manage to clear immigration, another smuggler reclaims them on the American side of the border.

Judicial decisions on family separation, and the detention of minors, have turned children  into “get-into-America-free” tickets. As a result, CBP is hyper-vigilant about making sure that children crossing the border aren’t “rent-a-kids” being used in “child recycling” schemes, or victims of human trafficking.

So, rather than deliberately terrifying a nine-year-old, as The Cut implies, CBP officers seem to have stopped young Julia and taken the appropriate steps to identify her and return her to an actual family member. Moreover, the whole situation could have been avoided if Ms. Cardenas had simply exercised better judgment. But, The Cut declined to address any of those issues – because they don’t support the “CBP as racist/alien as victim” narrative.

The Cut  isn’t the type of media organization you’d expect to produce insightful coverage of a complex issue like immigration. Its pages are filled with the sort of light-hearted fluff that one reads in the lobby of the dentist’s office while waiting for a cleaning. Nevertheless, even pop-culture news outlets should have some kind of editorial standards. If it can’t provide both facts and context, without misleading hype, then The Cut ought to stick to its forte: pieces like “The Divorced Woman Trying to Stop Sleeping With Her Ex,” and “Is It Any Fun to Shop at New York’s New Mega Mall.”

About Author


Matthew J. O’Brien joined the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) in 2016. Matt is responsible for managing FAIR’s research activities. He also writes content for FAIR’s website and publications. Over the past twenty years he has held a wide variety of positions focusing on immigration issues, both in government and in the private sector. Immediately prior to joining FAIR Matt served as the Chief of the National Security Division (NSD) within the Fraud Detection and National Security Directorate (FDNS) at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), where he was responsible for formulating and implementing procedures to protect the legal immigration system from terrorists, foreign intelligence operatives, and other national security threats. He has also held positions as the Chief of the FDNS Policy and Program Development Unit, as the Chief of the FDNS EB-5 Division, as Assistant Chief Counsel with U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement, as a Senior Advisor to the Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman, and as a District Adjudications Officer with the legacy Immigration & Naturalization Service. In addition, Matt has extensive experience as a private bar attorney. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in French from the Johns Hopkins University and a Juris Doctor from the University of Maine School of Law.

1 Comment

  1. avatar

    In April 2017 border crossings fell to a little over 4000 a month. It’s well established fact that many illegals were choosing not to come because when Trump came into office he did an immediate crackdown and word got back that it was a waste of time and money coming. But from that point it was one court decision after another that stopped everything he was trying to do.

    Now we have 4000 in a day and the border patrol is overwhelmed with little choice but to just release most people with no more than a court date years down the road that they will not show up for that. This is what the Democrats want. It’s why when the last budget “compromise” was done they insisted that the number of detention beds was reduced. Trump, rather than face another shutdown that they would blame on him, had to sign. Court decisions say illegals can only be held 20 days, then they have to be let go, and that is what is happening. The numbers have overwhelmed the capacity of the system, so we have in reality open borders.

    Chief Justice Roberts chastised Trump for saying there were Trump judges and Obama judges. Roberts said we have only judges. Nice spin, but judges appointed by liberal presidents have in general been the ones who are tying the hands of the border patrol, while the Democrats talk about border security and do everything they can to undermine it. The same Democratic weasels in the Senate who, with the exception of a small handful, refused to take a stand on the Green New Deal, a ludicrous budget busting proposal, and simply voted “present”, so they could then claim later they never voted “for” it. Champions of integrity, huh?