President Joe Biden’s deputies have restarted the federal program to deliver foreign youths and children to their illegal-migrant members in the United States — yet they are being taunted for reviving memories of the “kids in cages” furor created in 2018 by Democrats for use against President Donald Trump.
“It’s a media reflex to talk about it in this way,” said Mark Krikorian, director of the Center for Immigration Studies. The media default to the 2018 “kid in cages” narrative is also evidence of lazy journalism, he said, adding:
It’s just sort of the easier thing: “Look, haha, you guys have kids in cages too! Grandpa President Dummy is a liar!” … and you know, it’s kind of tempting because the [Biden officials] are hypocritical jerks.
But the underlying story Biden’s officials are voluntarily restarting the federal policy of extraction migration that has pushed and pulled roughly 3.5 million migrants into the United States’ economy since 2010, via a de facto obstacle course migration system for blue-collar migrants — a chaotic Hunger Games trail of loans, coyotes, cartels, rape, deserts, weather, border laws, barriers, rescuers, transport, judges, and cheap-labor employers.
Migrants who survive the obstacle course win the progressives’ prize of release into the United States where they boost the U.S. economy by competing for the jobs and housing needed by lower-skilled, lower-income Americans. So far, about 12 percent have won the Golden Prize of U.S. residency, while only about half have been sent home.
This chaotic and deadly federal policy of extraction migration includes several legally distinct streams, including adults who sneak across the border, the economic migrants who offer weak asylum claims, and the adult who bring kids so they can squeeze through the Flores loophole.
One of those streams is the growing population of so-called “Unaccompanied Alien Children” (UACs) that are being welcomed by Biden and his deputies.
The UACs consist of two main sub-groups: Teenagers looking for work to support their Central American families, and the children and teenagers who are getting delivered to their illegal-migrant parents in the United States.
This UAC stream is very different from the so-called “kids in cages” that media outlets spotlighted on Tuesday.
The claim of “kid in cages” was created and successfully used by Democrats as an emotional club to whack Trump’s anti-migration border policies. The media-magnified club conflated two categories of children and teenagers.
The first “kids in cages” category was the just-arrived children and teenagers kept at bare-bones border stations run by the Customs and Border Protection agency. Often these children were protected from other migrants by chain-link partitions while they and their parents recovered and were processed for a few days.
This category includes UAC as well as children traveling with migrant families. It was spotlighted by Breitbart when the migrants appeared during President Barack Obama’s terms.
The second “kids in cages” category was the children who were temporarily held in detention while their illegal-migrant parents were prosecuted under President Donald Trump’s enforcement of the nation’s border-migration laws. The enforcement allowed the border agency to convict their parents for border crossing, which would allow rapid deportation if the parents crossed again. However, pro-migration lawyers joined with the anti-Trump media to turn this separated-kids group into a passion play for Democratic voters, so creating a massive polling hot-spot for Democrats in 2018 and 2020.
In contrast, the supposedly-unaccompanied UACs get their own-fast track migration process, courtesy of a 2o08 law.
This track takes the UACs from their coyotes at the border to U.S. border officers, and then to shelters run by civilians working for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The HHS shelters are comfortable, allow phone calls, classrooms, and playgrounds where government carers prepare to hand the children over to their vetted “sponsors” in the United States.
The vast majority of the UAC sponsors are the adults who paid coyotes to deliver the children to the federal agencies at the border. The vast majority are also migrant parents, uncles, and aunts who are living illegally — or temporarily legally — in Michigan, Oklahoma, Virginia, Tennessee, and many other places in the United States. Since 2010, more than 300,000 children and teens have been carefully relayed from Central America to their parents by this joint federal-coyote operation.
But Trump shut this UAC pipeline down in 2020.
He used a healthcare law — plus diplomatic agreements with Central American countries — to immediately return new UACs to their extended families in their homelands. Trump’s shutdown quickly reduced the coyotes’ transport-for-hire business to a trickle.
Biden’s deputies now admit they are reopening the UAC pipeline — despite the myriad predictable harms to the children and youths, plus huge economic and political damage to their home countries and to Americans.
“We are in a circumstance where we are not going to expel unaccompanied minors at the border,” White House spokesman Jennifer Psaki said February 23:
That would be inhumane. That is not what we’re going to do here as an administration. We need to find places that are safe under COVID protocols for kids to be where they can have access to education, health and mental services, consistent with their best interest.
This process prompted officials to reopen a tent city in Carrizo Springs, Tex. On February 22, a Washington Post reporter burbled her enthusiasm about the pipeline, which now holds about 7,000 children and teenagers:
At the 66-acre site, groups of beige trailers encircle a giant white dining tent, a soccer field and a basketball court. There is a bright blue hospital tent with white bunk beds inside. A legal services trailer has the Spanish word “Bienvenidos,” or welcome, on a banner on its roof. There are trailers for classrooms, a barber shop, a hair salon. The facility has its own ambulances and firetrucks, as well as its own water supply.
The operation is based on a federal emergency management system, Weber said. The trailers are labeled with names such as Alpha, Charlie and Echo. Staff members wear matching black-and-white T-shirts displaying their roles: disaster case manager, incident support, emergency management.
The most colorful trailer is at the entryway, where flowers, butterflies and handmade posters still hang on its walls from Carrizo’s first opening in 2019.
300K+ child & youth migrants have been split from their families by Congress' unanimously clueless 2008 vote to create the 'UAC' pipeline into the US. Trump's DoJ has a draft fix, but Dems, biz & media are fighting to continue the family-splitting pipeline https://t.co/mv8YyVxjzq
— Neil Munro (@NeilMunroDC) October 4, 2019
The site is intended to hold about 700 teenage UACs, including some who are older than their claimed maximum age of 17.
The Washington Post report helped trigger a wave of taunts and jeers by Republicans eager for emotional payback after getting lashed by the “kids in cages” meme from Democrats and their media allies.
At the daily briefing, Psaki was asked by a reporter about the apparent hypocrisy:
Kamala Harris said that this facility — putting people in this facility was a human rights abuse committed by the United States government. And Joe Biden said, “Under Trump, there have been horrifying scenes of border” — “at the border of kids being kept in cages.” Now it’s not under Trump — it’s under Biden.
Psaki noted that the UACs are being housed so they can be sent to their “sponsors” throughout the United States: “We are not going to expel unaccompanied minors at the border. … Our goal is for them to then be transferred to families or sponsors.”
That reminder of Biden’s pro-migration policies spurred the misplaced hypocrisy jeers.
The February 23 Fox News headline declared: “Psaki defends reopening of migrant facility for children under Biden: ‘This is not kids being kept in cages’”
The New York Post declared: “White House denies ‘kids in cages’ hypocrisy charge as detention centers reopen.”
The reporters did not pressure Psaki on Biden’s choice to restart the extraction-migration policy. Without any pushback, Psaki downplayed Biden’s role in restarting the migration, including his decision to stop deporting the UAC migrants. In the don’t-blame-us passive voice, she said::
The challenge here, as you know, is that people are fleeing prosecution. They’re fleeing very difficult economic circumstances and hardship. And there hasn’t been enough time to do enough to impact the circumstances on the ground in a number of these communities.
And obviously, as these unaccompanied kids come to the border, it’s completely heartbreaking. We’re not going to expel these kids. We want to process and get them into facilities as quickly as possible … We need more time to put in place a humane and moral immigration system.
But Biden’s welcome is encouraging coyotes to bring more UACs to the border. In the first four months of 2020, 12,000 UACs were delivered. The first four months of 2021 showed a 64 percent rise to almost 20,000 deliveries.
Many of the Central American teenagers are coming north to find jobs — not to attend schools as if they were American teenagers finishing out their K-12 education.
“Honestly, I think almost everyone in the system knows that most of the [migrant] teens are coming to work and send money back home,” Maria Woltjen, executive director and founder of the Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights, told a reporter for ProPublica.
“They want to help their parents,” she told ProPublica for a November 2020 article:
Around Urbana-Champaign, the home of the University of Illinois, school district officials say children and adolescents lay shingles, wash dishes and paint off-campus university apartments. In New Bedford, Massachusetts, an indigenous Guatemalan labor leader has heard complaints from adult workers in the fish-packing industry who say they’re losing their jobs to 14-year-olds. In Ohio, teenagers work in dangerous chicken plants.
ProPublica interviewed 15 teenagers and young adults in Bensenville alone who said they work or have worked as minors inside more than two dozen factories, warehouses and food processing facilities in the Chicago suburbs, usually through temporary staffing agencies, and nearly all in situations where federal and state child labor laws would explicitly prohibit their employment.
Though most of the teens interviewed for this story are now 18, they agreed to speak on the condition that they not be fully identified and that their employers not be named because they feared losing their jobs, harming their immigration cases or facing criminal penalties.
Some began to work when they were just 13 or 14, packing the candy you find by the supermarket register, cutting the slabs of raw meat that end up in your freezer and baking, in industrial ovens, the pastries you eat with your coffee. Garcia, who is 18 now, was 15 when he got his first job at an automotive parts factory.
ACLU & judge reopen the 'UAC pipeline' at the border — as ProPublica shows many teenage migrants are heading to illegal & abusive child-labor jobs in the US.
So progressives win job losses for Americans, child labor for biz, more $ for cartels & lawyers.https://t.co/R815prNEDd
— Neil Munro (@NeilMunroDC) November 20, 2020
The UAC pipeline is safe for the teenagers once the coyotes complete their legal hand-off to Biden’s border agencies. Before the hand-off, the journey can be very deadly.
On January 30, the Los Angeles Times reported the death of roughly 13 teenagers who entered the Hunger Games obstacle course, including 15-year-old Robelson Isidro. The victims were reportedly killed by gunmen, and their bodies left in a burned-out pickup truck:
The [Guatemalan] community has a long history of sending migrants to the United States, and he had uncles who lived there. They had indoor kitchens. They didn’t have to cook outside under a tarp.
“He was ashamed,” his mother said in a phone interview. She said he told her: “I’m going to fight to make my dreams come true. I have to get my siblings ahead in life. I’m going to get them out of poverty.”
His uncles [in the United States had] wired him money to make the journey north.
The multiracial, cross-sex, non-racist, class-based, intra-Democratic, and solidarity-themed opposition to labor migration coexists with generally favorable personal feelings toward legal immigrants and toward immigration in theory — despite the media magnification of many skewed polls and articles that still push the 1950’s corporate “Nation of Immigrants” claim.
The deep public opposition is built on the widespread recognition that migration moves money from employees to employers, from families to investors, from young to old, from children to their parents, from homebuyers to real estate investors, and from the central states to the coastal states.
However, Biden’s officials have been broadcasting their desire to refocus the DHS and USCIS on helping to extract more migrants from Central America for the U.S. economy. On February 19, for example, DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas’ deputies posted a tweet offering support to migrants illegally working in the United States and to migrants who may wish to live in the United States:
“For Dreamers who only know this country as home. For essential workers that power our communities. For families who have waited – apart – for far too long. Reforming our immigration system will renew America's promise: as a beacon of hope for a better life.” Secretary Mayorkas
— Homeland Security (@DHSgov) February 20, 2021