In an interview with Chuck Todd of NBC News’ Meet the Press, President Barack Obama blamed the crisis of unaccompanied minor children at the border for prompting his decision to break his promise to use executive action to grant amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants by the summer’s end. “The truth of the matter is that the politics did shift midsummer because of that problem,” Obama said, in an interview to air Sunday.
Obama’s reversal has infuriated amnesty activists, who feel betrayed and are vowing to use protest and civil disobedience to press their case. It has also outraged conservatives, who regard Obama’s planned appropriation of executive powers as unconstitutional, and who regard his decision as a nakedly political calculation designed to save troubled Democrats. Yet Obama is correct: “the politics did shift” because of the illegal alien children.
And Breitbart News did more than any outlet to draw attention to the problem–not just that children and teens were crossing the border in unprecedented numbers, but that they were being warehoused in extremely tough conditions at Border Patrol facilities, where agents were struggling to manage a humanitarian crisis brought on, many felt, by the Obama administration’s own policies and loose talk about amnesty for illegal immigrants.
On June 5, Breitbart News’ Brandon Darby, editor of Breitbart Texas, broke the story–with exclusive images:
“Breitbart Texas obtained internal federal government photos depicting the conditions of foreign children warehoused by authorities on U.S. soil on Wednesday night. Thousands of illegal immigrants have overrun U.S. border security and their processing centers in Texas along the U.S./Mexico border. Unaccompanied minors, including young girls under the age of 12, are making the dangerous journey from Central America and Mexico, through cartel-controlled territories, and across the porous border onto U.S. soil,” he wrote.
“The photos illuminate the conditions of the U.S. Border Patrol’s processing centers, as well as the overwhelming task Border Patrol is facing,” he added, publishing 43 photographs along with the article.
The photographs soon became a national sensation. The story was picked up by rival outlets–not conservative news sites alone, but liberal sites like the Huffington Post and mainstream media outlets as well. The images of gaunt, exhausted, desperate children and mothers crowded into cells shocked the nation–and brought hordes of reporters from network and cable television news to the Texas border to document more of the story.
The reporters of Breitbart Texas did not stop there. They continued to lead the way in exploring and describing the arduous journey that the children had made, and the deadly hazards that awaited them even after crossing the porous U.S.-Mexico border.
Those stories–amplified by the Drudge Report and echoing in other outlets across the country–made the lack of border security impossible to ignore, changing the immigration debate.
The most telling sign that the border crisis had political consequences was Dave Brat’s stunning upset victory over House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in the 7th congressional district primary in Virginia. From then on, Republicans began making their opposition to amnesty clear–and Democrats began to panic.
That is what led to Obama’s reversal–and the original reporting from Breitbart, arguably the scoop of the year, deserves credit.