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How the Trump Administration Is Trying to Explain Children in Cages

Kirstjen Nielsen, the Department of Homeland Security Secretary, offered a grotesque litany of excuses

Here’s a good way to understand the day: White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was scheduled to hold her Monday briefing at 1:15 pm. ET. Then it was moved back to 3:30, then 4:00, then 5:00. The final delay came with a notice that Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen would be joining Sanders to answer questions about family separation. The White House reportedly flew Nielsen in from New Orleans because Sanders didn’t want to face down reporters herself.

Outrage over the administration’s policy had reached a fever pitch Monday morning, and, as Nielsen was en route from Louisiana to the White House, ProPublica released a devastating audio clip of children crying shortly after they had been separated from their parents at the border. Reporters played the recording out loud in the briefing room as they waited for Sanders and Nielsen to appear.

Just before 5:15, Sanders finally took the podium before quickly passing the room off to Nielsen. The DHS secretary provided a lengthy explanation of the administration’s policy while rattling off a number of statistics about illegal immigration. Both Nielsen’s opening statement and her subsequent responses to reporters were rife with lies about the policy and how children have been treated at the border.

Several of Nielsen’s other claims have been thoroughly debunked, such as her insistence that children separated from their parents are being treated with humanity. Images of children packed into cages have flooded the Internet since journalists were first given a look at some of the facilities last week. When pressed on the issue, Nielsen cited the fact that the children are being provided meals as an example of the “high standard of care.” When asked about her response to the images, she claimed she hadn’t seen them before alleging that they “reflect the focus of those who post such pictures and narratives.”

The overriding talking point parroted by both Nielsen and Sanders, who later took Nielsen’s place to answer additional questions, was that Congress is to blame for failing to pass a law closing the “loophole” that the administration falsely alleges is forcing the separation of children from their parents.

When Sanders was later asked if the administration would be open to rescinding the “zero tolerance” policy that has caused the family separation if Congress were to pass a law that closed the loophole but didn’t fund Trump’s $25 billion border wall, Sanders deflected, saying that the president has already laid out what he wants and that he doesn’t want to “kick the can down the road.”

Sanders was asked a similar question later in the briefing, and once again deflected.

The administration has repeatedly claimed that this legal loophole is what is forcing them to separate children from their parents at the border, and there’s no more definitive proof that Trump does not care one iota about these migrant families than his refusal to rescind the policy even if the loophole is closed. He won’t do it because the children are indeed being used as bargaining chips so that he can build the border wall – his white whale of a campaign process. The welfare of thousands of children who did nothing wrong is a small price to pay for a chance to secure funding for this grotesque monument to American xenophobia. Never mind that Mexico was supposed to pay for it.

If you haven’t heard what kids in cages sound like, listen to this:

In This Article: Donald Trump, Immigration

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