On Monday, Fox News host Laura Ingraham stated that the detention centers children who are being separated from their parents on the border are being housed in what are “essentially summer camps”.
Laura Ingraham describes the detention facilities where children are sent after being forcibly separated from their parents as "essentially summer camps." pic.twitter.com/K6ao3lbS6Q
— Judd Legum (@JuddLegum) June 19, 2018
She cites the San Diego Union Tribune as saying the facilities are looking like “basically boarding schools”.
The Union Tribune article she refers to is describing the long term holding facilities run by Southwest Key Programs, which are licensed day care facilities. MSNBC correspondent, Jacob Soboroff, was part of a press tour of the Casa Padre Southwest Key facility in Brownsville, Texas and shared pics and information in a Twitter thread. Reuters provides additional pictures from the facility Soboroff toured.
Starting to get some handout photos from our tour with @HHSGov.
Here’s the Trump mural I mentioned to @chrislhayes inside the shelter for incarcerated child migrants.
Also their beds and the towels they shower with. pic.twitter.com/EPEQ1VGAAF
— Jacob Soboroff (@jacobsoboroff) June 14, 2018
According to the San Diego Union Tribune, there are about 100 such facilities which house unaccompanied children in 17 states. The facilities are run by the Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families. An agency official states that the average time a child spends in such a facility is 56 days and most are reunited with their sponsor.
The latest outrage has come after pictures, video, and audio from temporary holding facilities on the border have emerged. The temporary holding facilities are intended to detain, process, and hold individuals for no more than three days. These facilities are reported to separate children from adults and hold them in chain link cages. Border agents are reportedly “uncomfortable” with the term cages.
New York Magazine reports on the condition of children in the McAllen, Texas facility called “Ursula”.
In the McAllen facility, for instance, children are given bottled water and chips for sustenance, and foil sheets intended to serve as blankets. An advocate who spent several hours in the facility told the Associated Press that she met a 16-year-old girl who’d been taking care of a young, unaccompanied child for three days. “She had to teach other kids in the cell to change her diaper,” she said. “She was so traumatized that she wasn’t talking. She was just curled up in a little ball.”
Texas Monthly quotes Anne Chandler, executive director of the Houston office of the nonprofit Tahirih Justice Center as she explained that parents are often given no justification of why their children are being taken away.
In other cases, we see no communication that the parent knows that their child is to be taken away. Instead, the officers say, “I’m going to take your child to get bathed.” That’s one we see again and again. “Your child needs to come with me for a bath.” The child goes off, and in a half an hour, twenty minutes, the parent inquires, “Where is my five-year-old?” “Where’s my seven-year-old?” “This is a long bath.” And they say, “You won’t be seeing your child again.”
BREAKING: Border Patrol @CBP just gave us this video of the detention facility we toured yesterday in McAllen, Texas. We weren't allowed to bring in cameras, or interview anyone. To be clear: this is government handout video. pic.twitter.com/Zjy80qIZFZ
— David Begnaud (@DavidBegnaud) June 18, 2018
Senator Tim Kaine (D-Va.) called the McAllen, Texas facility “the real Trump Hotel” in a tweet on Monday. The first photo in the tweet is of children resting on mats with foil blankets as bedding, as Ann Chandler reported to Texas Monthly.
The real Trump Hotel. pic.twitter.com/PP6nIbzNQR
— Tim Kaine (@timkaine) June 18, 2018
The issue that is getting attention is the “zero tolerance” policy the Trump administration implemented in May, which means anyone crossing the border illegally will be prosecuted. If they have children with them, those children will be taken away and eventually housed at a long term facility until their parent’s case is resolved. Last week, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that asylum seekers are now on the list of those who will be prosecuted.
Chandler points out in the Texas Monthly article that asylum cases can take two to six months to resolve and, in the meantime, the removed children are being cared for in an overwhelmed and unprepared system.
For all asylum seekers, you are going to be put in jail, in a detention center, and you’re going to have your children taken away from you. That’s the policy. They’re not 100 percent able to implement that because of a lot of reasons, including just having enough judges on the border. And bed space. There’s a big logistical problem because this is a new policy. So the way they get to that policy of taking the kids away and keeping the adults in detention centers and the kids in a different federal facility is based on the legal rationale that we’re going to convict you, and since we’re going to convict you, you’re going to be in the custody of the U.S. Marshals, and when that happens, we’re taking your kid away.
The Hill reports that, by the end of her show, Ingraham acknowledged the backlash online against her comments but did not apologize.
“Apparently there are a lot of people very upset because we referred to some of the detention facilities tonight as essentially like summer camps,” she said.
She said that she would stick to describing the centers as being “like boarding schools,” in line with the Tribune’s description.
Ingraham also encouraged critics to send more time in Central America, and suggested that adoption processes should be easier for American couples.
“We should make adoption easier for American couples who want to adopt these kids who are true candidates for adoption because our policies don’t allow that,” she said. “So let’s put our hearts out there for the kids in the right way. Take care of them the right way. Open your hearts and your homes to them.”
Why It Matters
Laura Ingraham is being purposely disingenuous when she attempts to minimize the conditions in the primitive short term holding facilities as being like summer camp by using a reference to a completely different type of facility which is also not ideal but clearly not as primitive as the short term facilities.
If Republicans cannot get on board with seeing the need to keep families, even illegals, together when possible, they should at least be on board to be concerned with the amount of tax dollars it will cost to prosecute first time amnesty seekers and house their children for six months. And if Republicans cannot get on board to at least be concerned with the amount of tax dollars being thrown at this problem, they should be aware that this policy has been rolled out in the most incompetent way possible by the administration and optics resulting from that poor roll out will further damage GOP chances of keeping the House and Senate in the mid-terms.