The mainstream media and Democrats have criticized the Trump administration’s response to the migrant caravans storming the nation’s southern border.
However, many of the critiques either don’t provide full context or are factually incorrect, based on information released Tuesday by the Department of Homeland Security.
Here are three narratives that the Department of Homeland Security is pushing back against:
1. Separating Myth From Fact on Child Separation
The long-running narrative has been that Border Patrol officials are separating children from parents. However, that doesn’t take into account fraudulent families, DHS spokeswoman Katie Waldman noted in a statement.
From April 19 to Sept. 30, there were 507 illegal immigrants separated when the government determined they were not a legitimate family unit, meaning, not parents or guardians of the children. Of those, 170 family units were separated based on no family relation. That included 197 adults and 139 juveniles.
In other cases, the child wasn’t really a child, as 87 family units were separated based on the child being determined to be over 18 years old. Also, 165 men and women who had initially claimed to be minors were later discovered to be adults, according to the DHS.
The Rio Grande Valley in Texas had the highest number of reported fraudulent cases.
“In response to the misreporting from multiple outlets, I wanted to highlight the rampant fraud taking place at our Southern border,” Waldman said in the statement. “Aliens know that if they bring any minor with them, they will be apprehended by Border Patrol and released into the interior of the United States.”
She clarified, however, that the department isn’t claiming all cases are fraudulent.
“This data does not show, nor does DHS assert, that all minors apprehended as part of a family unit are illegitimate, but it does indicate that there is a significant problem that provides DHS the needed authority to protect the best interests and welfare of all children,” Waldman said.
The separation policy was based on a culmination of court decisions and legislation since the 1990s.
In 1997, the Clinton administration entered into something called the Flores Settlement Agreement, which ended a class-action lawsuit first brought in the 1980s.
The settlement established a policy that the federal government would release unaccompanied minors from custody to their parents, relatives, or other caretakers after no more than 20 days, or, alternatively, determine the “least restrictive” setting for the child.
In a separate development, in 2008, a Democrat-controlled Congress approved bipartisan legislation to combat human trafficking, and President George W. Bush, a Republican, signed it into law.
Section 235(g) of that law, the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act, states that unaccompanied minors entering the United States must be transferred to the custody of the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement, rather than to the Department of Homeland Security.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit expanded the Flores settlement in 2016 to include children brought to the country illegally by their parents.
2. Tear-Gassing Children
The caravan has 8,500 migrants, according to the department.
Media outlets and Democratic politicians seized on children being among the migrants bearing the brunt of tear gas along the California border.
A migrant family, part of a caravan of thousands traveling from Central America en route to the United States, runs away from tear gas in front of the U.S.-Mexico border wall in Tijuana, Mexico.
(?: Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters) pic.twitter.com/pz7hkxsN9g
— NBC News (@NBCNews) November 25, 2018
Ben Rhodes, a one-time national security adviser to then-President Barack Obama, pounced.
It’s wrong to gas women and children and the elderly. That shouldn’t be a partisan view, nor should that be uncomfortable to “the men and women in duty” https://t.co/PBHRE5utCT
— Ben Rhodes (@brhodes) November 26, 2018
However, the Obama administration used tear gas on a monthly basis, The Washington Times reported.
In one of those instances, the Obama administration used tear gas when a far smaller contingent of only 100 immigrants charged the border in 2013. This week, several hundred rushed the California border.
The San Diego Union-Tribune reported:
A group of about 100 people trying to illegally cross the border Sunday near the San Ysidro port of entry threw rocks and bottles at U.S. Border Patrol agents, who responded by using pepper spray and other means to force the crowd back into Mexico, federal officials said.
The incident has raised concerns among advocates on both sides of the immigration debate, as well as Border Patrol representatives. Immigrant-rights groups in San Diego said they didn’t know beforehand about the plan to rush the border, and they worry that desperation is driving homeless deportees to make a bold bid to rejoin their families in the United States.
Border-security groups see this situation as evidence that the border remains unsecured, something they said should be fixed before Congress considers proposals to grant legal status to unauthorized immigrants.
Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said in a statement Monday that the current violent rush on the border eclipsed prior problems.
Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen provided the following statement regarding the recent crisis on our southern border. “Given…
“First, the violence we saw at the border was entirely predictable. This caravan, unlike previous caravans, had already entered #Mexico violently and attacked border police in two other countries,” the secretary said in a Facebook post.
“I refuse to believe that anyone honestly maintains that attacking law enforcement with rocks and projectiles is acceptable. It is shocking that I have to explain this, but officers can be seriously or fatally injured in such attacks. Self-defense isn’t debatable for most law-abiding Americans.”
She added: “[T]he caravan is far larger and more organized than previous ones. There are 8,500 caravan members in Tijuana and Mexicali. There are reports of additional caravans on their way.”
3. Not Legal Asylum-Seekers
Critics contend the migrants have a legal right to seek asylum in the United States.
Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., tweeted:
Let me repeat myself in case you didn’t hear or read the US legal code. @realDonaldTrump: Seeking asylum is LEGAL.
Migrants at our border are looking for help. Yet, instead of greeting them w understanding, you deploy tear gas. Shameful disgusting. https://t.co/RzEFJDqqzh
— Carolyn B. Maloney (@RepMaloney) November 26, 2018
However, Nielsen pushed back, noting that many of the migrants in the caravan do not legally qualify for asylum. Meanwhile, most are not women and children.
Historically, less than 10% of those who claim asylum from #Guatemala, #Honduras, and #ElSalvador are found eligible by a federal judge. 90% are not eligible. Most of these migrants are seeking jobs or to join family who are already in the U.S. They have all refused multiple opportunities to seek protection in Mexico or with the UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency.
She said that “the caravan members are predominantly male.”
“It appears in some cases that the limited number of women and children in the caravan are being used by the organizers as ‘human shields’ when they confront law enforcement,” the secretary wrote.
“They are being put at risk by the caravan organizers, as we saw at the Mexico-Guatemala border. This is putting vulnerable people in harm’s way,” Nielsen said.
Source material can be found at this site.