One of the most divisive elements contrived by the media throughout the Presidency of Donald J. Trump were the detention centers at the Southern border. The mainstream media on the east coast along with their pals in Tinseltown in the west ignorantly or deceptively created a story that dogged the Trump administration for the bulk of his presidency. The talking point – Kids in Cages – stuck in the minds of voters regardless of its accuracy. While what was going on at the border during Trump’s tenure can be rightly criticized, the sheer gall of his opponents to act as if this situation had not been created under his predecessors—and to actually use a photo of the situation taken during Obama’s presidency as the key image against Trump—was the epitome of Hollywood Hypocrisy.
The problems at the border have existed long before Trump took office and they continue today. Trump didn’t solve these problems, but he certainly didn’t create them.
In fact, the illegal immigration and border crisis began to take real shape during the Clinton years with “Operation Hold the Line” and “Operation Gatekeeper” enacted in 1994. These policies shifted focus at the border away from apprehensions and instead focused on determent. Instead of border agents being given the allowance to apprehend illegal crossings as they saw fit, they were instructed to focus on specific areas only and go after particular types of illegal immigration.
Naturally, the number of apprehensions decreased. However, determent was not accomplished. Later, during the presidency of George W. Bush, “The Secure Fence Act of 2006” passed with bipartisan support but in reality was a band-aid covering a bullet hole. This policy resulted in the surveillance of illegal border crossings but did little to actually secure the border. Why? The caveat in the bill that any portion of the border exceeding a 10% grade did not have to include actual fencing largely gave way to drones merely identifying and tabulating the crossings. Later, for all the “Hope and Change” Barack Obama was said to inspire during his presidency, the border crisis got much, much worse. Additional detention centers were created and border crossings surged. This gave way to increased numbers of children being held in centers.
For example, “In fiscal year 2013, under the Barack Obama administration, the HHS Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) had as many as 25,000 unaccompanied children in its care across 80 shelters.” Newsweek, no fan of Donald Trump, admitted that Obama had double the amount of children in detention centers. The border situation was made worse by President Obama’s commitment to the controversial executive order DACA in which he promised citizenship for children brought across the border by their parents or smugglers.
Enter Donald Trump, with his strong anti-immigrant rhetoric and the stage was set for a Hollywood production that had little basis in reality.
In May of 2018, in what now can only be understood as the tweet read around the world, former Obama speechwriter, Jon Favreau shared a picture of children being held in detention centers under extremely oppressive conditions. The mainstream media kicked off its “Kids in Cages” talking point and Hollywood salivated. The number of celebrities who joined this mass decrying of Trump Administration cruelty was vast. The list included: Ashton Kutcher, Justin Bieber, Conan O’Brien, Ellen DeGeneres, Rob Reiner, George Takei, Reese Witherspoon, Jimmy Kimmel, Cher, Stephen Colbert, John Legend, Debra Messing, Chelsea Handler and Alyssa Milano. The rage from these stars and starlets would have been legitimate had the picture Favreau showed actually depicted anything about the Trump presidency. It didn’t. The photo was from 2014, taken during the administration of Barack Obama.
As the AP reported in its factcheck: “The photos, taken by The Associated Press, were from 2014, during the Obama administration, but were presented by liberal activists as if they showed the effects of Trump’s immigration policy now. Villaraigosa, Favreau and some others deleted their tweets when the mistake was pointed out.”
Yet even as some deleted their tweets, not one of these people, many of whom still associate with the former President and were even invited to his 60th birthday party last weekend, called on Obama to account for his past sins. Like all talented actors, they stayed on script: “It’s still Donald Trump’s fault. Orange man bad.”
The very same fact-check said that actor Jim Carrey and former US Attorney Preet Bharara were among those who ripped Trump for “forcibly separating” 1500 children from their families. In fact, according to AP, “The nearly 1,500 children in question arrived at the border without their parents and were not forced from them by U.S. authorities. Critics are conflating those children with others, who came to the border with their parents, only to be separated there.”
The fact of the matter is that Donald Trump inherited a mess at the border. A mess created by three past presidents with policies that did not work. Focusing on deterrence instead of apprehension, a mirage of a fence and then DACA and detention centers resulted in an estimate 10-12 million undocumented illegal immigrants residing in the United States before Trump took office (even though many believe the number is far greater). This came with crime rates skyrocketing a draining of social benefits and entitlements such as education and healthcare being taken from the citizenry.
Donald Trump had a two main positions in his border philosophy: Build a formidable southern wall and return to apprehension as a deterrent.
One thing that hurt Trump pursuing his agenda at the border was his rhetoric during the 2016 campaign. The media and Hollywood pounced on Trump’s language regarding MS-13 gang members and other criminals, including human traffickers, and successfully and deceptively framed his comments as a blanketed statement toward all immigrants surging our borders. His words were, “The U.S. has become a dumping ground for everybody else’s problems. It’s true. And these aren’t the best and the finest. When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best… They’re sending people that have lots of problems… They’re bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime; they’re rapists, and some, I assume, are good people.” This turned into – “Donald Trump called immigrants rapists and murderers” and helped the media and Hollywood create a salacious and racist-sounding message. Donald Trump’s rhetoric, always easily typified as controversial, was in this case very targeted toward MS-13 gang members and other criminals. He was not referring to the garden variety mother and child seeking America for how great it is.
Fast forward to August 2021. Joe Biden’s presidency has been an unmitigated disaster at the border. Over 1,000,000 immigrants have been apprehended at the southern border. Detention centers are overflowing. New centers are being opened. Some centers that had been closed have been forced to reopen. Tent cities have been erected to house immigrants. Children are being kept at centers well beyond capacity limits, sleeping on floors and lacking basic medical care. Governors from around the country are sending in national guard to help. Texas is suing the Biden administration. Solidly Democrat counties are now electing Republican mayors because of Biden’s dereliction.
Hollywood, clearly taking its direction from Vice President Kamala Harris, is M.I.A. They’re too busy living in their contradictions regarding vaccines, ignoring BLM riots while decrying January 6th, and supporting the federal takeover of US elections. They know it’s bad at the border because even the partisans at CNN have been forced to concede it. However, they remain silent because they are, first and foremost, actors.
Regarding “Kids in Cages,” Hollywood plays a bigger role off the screen than it ever has in the limelight. The town’s portrayal of concerned activists during the Trump Administration is Oscar worthy because it was clearly all a farce. They hate Donald Trump and will stop at nothing to promote any talking point, as deceptively framed as it may be. President Joe Biden has a crisis at the border. It is getting worse, and his approach is to blame. Perhaps Hollywood could find it in their hearts to care for the children who are being kept in substandard conditions and demand Joe Biden take immediate, reparative action in stopping the surge. Until such a time, can anyone take these people seriously?