President Trump has instituted a number of morally dubious policies since taking office, but nothing has sparked so much outrage as the one issued last month that has caused over 2,000 migrant children – or, as Trump puts it, “only 2,000” – to be ripped away from their parents at the border. The images, audio and reporting detailing the separations and the conditions in which these kids are being forced to live have evoked a visceral response from the two-thirds of Americans who oppose the policy, and it would appear the administration has finally come upon something that not even the White House’s seasoned collection of liars can defend.
That doesn’t mean they won’t try. During a press briefing Monday afternoon, Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen pulled every card from the rolodex of falsehoods the administration has put together to justify the policy. The administration officials alternated between arguing that the policy doesn’t even exist to the notion that Congress alone can fix the problem. Trump, too, once again falsely blamed Democratic legislators on Monday.
With the administration doubling down, you better believe Fox News was going to follow suit during its primetime slate of state-sponsored programming. Children being kept in cages? It was a layup for Laura Ingraham, who likened the prison-like facilities in which newly unaccompanied children are living to “summer camps.”
Laura Ingraham going to summer camp at a dog kennel explains a lot. pic.twitter.com/HDafbAGebt
— Jeffrey Wright (@jfreewright) June 19, 2018
But kids attending summer camp know they’ll be reunited with their parents, and don’t have to beg to speak to them by phone. They also aren’t kept in cages – especially not ones containing 20 other campers – where they’re given nothing to play with other than a photocopy of their suddenly absent mother’s ID card.
Joining Ingraham was Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the man responsible for instituting the “zero tolerance” policy that yielded the current situation. Though Trump and DHS Secretary Nielsen have repeatedly denied the administration is responsible for the policy, Sessions has said the opposite. When asked whether the policy is meant to deter others from attempting to seek asylum in the United States, Sessions admitted it was. “Yes, hopefully people will get the message and come through the border at the port of entry and not [come] across the border unlawfully.”
When Nielsen was asked the same question hours earlier at the White House, she said explicitly the opposite. She also acknowledged that immigrants are being turned away from ports of entry due to lack of resources.
REPORTER (me): “Are you intending to send a message?”
SEC NIELSEN: “I find that offensive. No. Why would I ever create a policy that does that?”
REPORTER (me): “Perhaps as a deterrent.”
SEC NIELSEN: “No!”
And then, a few hours later, on Fox News… https://t.co/bi6zspMReC
— Steven Portnoy (@stevenportnoy) June 19, 2018
Regardless of the intention of the policy, there is no debating that it exists, that the Trump administration implemented it and that, as Lindsay Graham said, “President Trump could stop this policy with a phone call.” Its cruelty is something most Americans assumed the country had long since left behind, and its reemergence has led many to reach back into history for comparisons. On Sunday, former first lady Laura Bush published an op-ed in the Washington Post noting that what is going on at the border is “eerily reminiscent” of the Japanese internment camps set up during World War II, which she calls “one of the most shameful episodes in U.S. history.” California Senator Dianne Feinstein, former CIA Director Michael Hayden and others have invoked Nazi Germany, a comparison that may seem over-the-top when considering the end product of Hitler’s rule – but also feels eerily reminiscent of the way Hitler exercised influence in the years leading up to the Holocaust.
While speaking with Ingraham Monday night, Sessions attempted to clarify that America is not Nazi Germany. “It’s a real exaggeration,” he said. “In Nazi Germany they were keeping the Jews from leaving the country.”
Jeff Sessions says that Trump’s family separation policies are not like Nazi Germany because Nazis “were keeping the Jews from leaving.” (via Fox) pic.twitter.com/KDkd3xMPBw
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) June 19, 2018
This is not true. Nazi Germany attempted to forcibly expel Jews before developing a plan to exterminate them. In 1938, they deported 17,000 Polish Jews living in Germany. In addition to outright deportation, the Nazis’ pre-extermination plan to rid the nation of Jews involved breaking up Jewish families as a means of encouraging those remaining in Germany to leave under their own volition.
From the travel ban that was signed less than two weeks after he took office, to the ongoing deportations carried out by ICE, to the current situation at the border, ridding America of those with brown skin has been one of the hallmarks of Trump’s tenure in office. On Monday, Trump tweeted about Germany’s increasing migrant population and how “allowing millions of people in who have so strongly and violently changed their culture.” He then tweeted that “we don’t want what is happening with immigration in Europe to happen with us.”
Tucker Carlson grabbed the baton Monday night, delivering a rant about how the “ruling class” – by which he meant the media, not the Republicans who control the White House and both houses of Congress – doesn’t really care about families. He claims they want to use immigrants to, as Trump tweeted earlier, change the culture of the nation. “They’re trying to change your country forever,” Carlson warned. “And they’re succeeding.”
— Fox News (@FoxNews) June 19, 2018
Regardless of what future atrocities may come, we know that a chorus of inexhaustible voices will attempt to rationalize them later that night on Fox News.