On Sunday, a photograph depicting two migrant children sleeping in a cage at a detention facility administered by Immigration and Customs Enforcement made the rounds on social media. The photo was labeled as an example of a "kids' concentration camp." Prominent critics of President Donald Trump reacted quickly and emotionally, while attributing the detention of the children to the Trump administration. Among those commenting on the photo were Jon Favreau -- a former speechwriter for Barack Obama -- and former Antonio Villaraigosa -- a former Los Angeles city mayor. Favreau wrote, for instance: "Look at these pictures. This is happening right now, and the only debate that matters is how we force our government to get these kids back to their families as fast as humanly possible." Villaraigosa wrote: “Speechless. This is not who we are as a nation.” 

However, the photo was actually taken in 2014 and was featured in an article at the AzCentral.com website. This occurred during the Obama administration. Both Villaraigosa and Favreau later deleted their tweets. Jake Silverstein, who edits the New York Times magazine, recognized his fault and explained that he had been distracted by his family over the Memorial Day weekend. Silverstein tweeted, “Correction: this link, which was going around this morning, is from 2014. Still disturbing, of course, but only indirectly related to current situation. My bad (and a good reminder not to RT things while distracted w family on the weekend).”

In the case of CNN reporter Hadas Gold, she sought to downplay the “impression” her earlier tweet had made regarding what she presumed is the practice in ICE detention centers under President Trump. She tweeted, “Deleted previous tweet because gave impression of recent photos (they’re from 2014).” On Twitter, a user bearing the handle “Educated Hillbilly” responded to Gold, writing: “No you did not ‘give the impression’. You flat out said it.”

Muslim activist and Women's March co-founder Linda Sarsour tweeted: “Take a look at these photos,” while adding the hashtag #WhereAreTheChildren.

On Saturday, President Trump issued a tweet calling on Americans to pressure Democrats “to end the horrible law that separates children from their parents once they cross the border into the U.S.” He demanded the construction of a border wall as well as an end to chain migration, the visa lottery, and the catch-and-release policy which allows illegal aliens to remain in the U.S. to wait for their appointments in immigration courts.

The 2014 photo that went viral on social media over Memorial Day weekend this year depicted children who had entered the U.S. illegally. The Department of Homeland Security tranferred them to Nogales, Arizona, from its overwhelmed detention facilities in Texas during a wave of minor migrants seeking entry to the country during the Obama administration. A tour by AzCentral at the detention facility revealed that it was clean and air conditioned, and that officers showed genuine compassion for the children kept there. AzCentral reported: 

"The children] are fed and clothed, kept clean and cool, far better off than if they were walking through the desert in June temperatures.

"The Nogales facility is a way station where the children are identified, examined for health problems by the U.S. Public Health Service, vaccinated and then moved to other facilities in Texas, Oklahoma and California until they are placed with relatives already in the country to await their day in Immigration Court.

"[A] 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."

President Trump tweeted on Tuesday morning: "Democrats mistakenly tweet 2014 pictures from Obama's term showing children from the border in steel cages. They thought it was recent pictures in order to make us look bad, but backfires. Democrats must agree to wall and new border protection for good country...bipartisan bill?"

 

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Spero News writer Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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