By AFP Staff
By now most people have seen the photographs of the crying toddler whose mother is being detained on the U.S. border. It’s been sent around the world and has sent social media into a tailspin. The Holocaust and Vietnam have been invoked. Headlines on the front pages of liberal newspapers and magazines have gone so far as to accuse President Donald Trump of being “soulless” and “craven” and even “ghoulish,” but, as with all things on the Internet, when one really looks at the context behind these photographs, while still heartbreaking, there is much more to the story than we are being told.
Earlier in June, Getty photographer John Moore had been documenting illegal border crossings as he travelled with U.S. Border Patrol agents on patrol in Texas along the Rio Grande on the U.S. side of the border with Mexico.
On June 12, Moore struck media gold when he was able to capture a few shots of a woman and her two-year-old daughter, who had been traveling for over a month from their native Honduras through Mexico and up to the U.S. border. One image shows the toddler crying as U.S. agents pat down her mother. In another, the mother is bent over and is removing the child’s shoelaces as the toddler looks on.
In the week since those photographs were taken, the image of a crying toddler staring at her mother has been used by Internet warriors against U.S. immigration policies and stoked fiery outrage on social media with some posters accusing law enforcement officials of being Nazi soldiers carrying out orders to gas Jews in the Holocaust during World War II.
As with many things on the Internet, however, the truth is far from what many rabid, anti-Trump fanatics want you believe.
In an interview yesterday with The Washington Post, Moore explained to a reporter that, while the photographs are heartbreaking, the Border Patrol officers were thoughtful and professional and tried to make the best out of a difficult situation.
The fact is, the woman and her child, who were detained along with dozens of others, broke U.S. law by entering the United States illegally.
Coming from countries where people are regularly executed on the spot by paramilitary forces and police for minor infractions, it is understandable that the detainees would be frightened. In the United States, however, this doesn’t happen. On the U.S. border, the illegal aliens, including the mother and her young daughter, were taken to an immigration processing facility where they were fed, given shelter, and provided with legal representation that is either paid for by charities or U.S. taxpayers.
The question of splitting up families remains a hotly debated issue. As part of a new policy enacted under Trump, children and their parents are sent to different sites. In some cases, this is for the good. For example, in refugee camps in Europe, entire families are allowed to stay together. In some of these camps sexual assaults and violence have even become rampant. Up until the current administration, only children traveling alone would be sent to special facilities. The so-called “zero tolerance” for illegal immigration has prompted officials to now break up families, sending mothers and fathers off to be prosecuted while their children are kept in special care sites that are solely for kids.
The truth is, the solution to all of this controversy is simple, and it is something that Trump has repeatedly asked for. Congress has to get involved and enact commonsense laws for processing illegal immigrants. Men and women can be segregated, but mothers should be allowed to remain with small children while they await either deportation or an asylum hearing.
Freedom Caucus chairman Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) announced this morning that Republicans intend to introduce a bill in the House today narrowly focused on asylum issues and ending family separation at the U.S.-Mexico border.
Washington needs to stop playing politics with immigration. While most Republicans want to secure the borders, most Democrats have fought this, as they see immigrants—especially ones who are angry at Republicans—as future voters.
Obviously, the priority should be to protect the American people by securing the border, but that doesn’t mean we have to give up our humanity in the process.