Just how horrific are the actions of the Trump Administration when it comes to the detention of migrant children? Just weeks after we learned that six children have died in US detention centers comes the news that the government is arguing that it should be acceptable to deny children who sleep on concrete floors basic necessities like toothbrushes and soap:
The Trump administration argued in front of a Ninth Circuit panel Tuesday that the government is not required to give soap or toothbrushes to children apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border and can have them sleep on concrete floors in frigid, overcrowded cells, despite a settlement agreement that requires detainees be kept in “safe and sanitary” facilities.
And it’s with that backdrop—one filled with dead children and conditions we would never tolerate for adults in correctional facilities—that Tim
Despite claiming he was there on official business—and posting incidental photos to his campaign Twitter account—Fox used a moment when he could have learned about the plight of migrant children and the abuses of immigration enforcement officials to claim that many of the children coming to the U.S. were from “so-called” families:
I learned that many of the so-called “families” attempting to cross the border are fraudulent families made up of children kidnapped or rented. Families must be released within 20 days, but fail to report for immigration judge hearings and are then unlikely to be found again.
— Tim Fox (@AGTimFox) June 20, 2019
That’s not only a morally repugnant assertion; it’s also flatly untrue. While there may be anecdotal evidence of some children being exploited in this manner, the vast majority of the children crossing the border are with their families.
According to a spokesman for the agency, 4,800 people, or 1.4 percent of those claiming to be part of a family, have been deemed fraudulent since October 2018. That figure includes children traveling with their parents who are later determined to be over 18, and those whose grandparents claim to be their parents.
In fact, the Border is actually separating children from family members and calling their actions fraud:
But advocates say the Border Patrol regularly cites fraud when it separates a child from an adult relative who isn’t a parent, even if the relative is the child’s effective guardian.
The Texas Civil Rights Project published a study in February that counted 272 separated families at a single Texas courthouse since June, after the official end of the zero-tolerance policy that led to thousands of family separations earlier in 2018. Of those, 234 involved adult siblings, aunts and uncles, or other relatives of the children.
And as the Children’s Border Project notes, the claim that these children are not traveling with their families is little more than a lie to justify inhumane detention and family separation:
The Office of Refugee Resettlement taking in all these kids says that they are our children, that they are unaccompanied. It’s a fabrication. They’re not unaccompanied children. They are children that came with their parents, and the idea that we’re creating this crisis—it’s a manufactured crisis where we’re going to let children suffer to somehow allow this draconian approach with families seeking shelter and safe refuge.
But winning a Republican primary in Montana isn’t about what’s true, nor even about what is moral. It’s about demonizing people of color crossing a border thousands of miles away, even though as governor, Fox would have no role in directing immigration policy. It’s about making sure the crowd fed a steady diet of xenophobic fearmongering about migrants by Fox News doesn’t think you’re weak, even if you have to issue your dissembling tweets over the bodies of children dying in cramped, unsanitary, and inhumane detentions centers while they weep, wondering why their parents cannot comfort them.
For years, some Montana Democrats have expressed a certain fatalism about the prospect of the Fox governorship. He’s largely given a free pass by the press, seems like an affable enough person, and 16 years is a long time for any party to hold the governor’s chair in Montana. That narrative has been accompanied by one even more dangerous: the idea that Fox is somehow a moderate who won’t enact the worst of the Republican agenda in Montana.
Given the tenor his campaign thus far, we’d be fools to believe that. Fox is as dangerous—and apparently just as xenophobic—as Gianforte, and Montanans should know just what kind of candidate they’re dealing with here.