The immigration issue has reached an acetylene-level of hot-takes the past couple of weeks (especially heating up after the FBI IG report exposing administrative misbehavior).
The media’s concerted effort to politicize the Department Of Justice's new enforcement policy of existing law at the border has crescendoed to a hysteria pitch. Florida politicians haven't hesitated to maximize their political gains.
Due to the focus on the entire media complex on this image of immigrant children being wrested away from their parents at the border, Democrats in Florida leapt at the chance to create a media event.
On Tuesday an immigrant holding facility in Homestead became the target for politicians to descend upon. Florida Sen. Bill Nelson, embattled U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and state Rep. Kionne McGhee strode onto the property, demanding they be let in to inspect the conditions.
The trio found themselves rebuffed by the administration, told they would need to have scheduled a visit of that proportion. In case one might question the motive of this visit, note that those arriving at the front door were all Democratic politicians (additionally, Homestead is well south of Wasserman Schultz’s district in Broward County), and somehow a large crowd of electronic media arrived with them on their “surprise” visit.
There is little mystery why security and the directors of the facility would be averse to a stampede of this size through the property.
When denied, Nelson tried to pull rank, declaring he sits on the Armed Services Committee. Wasserman Schultz also trotted out her bona fides, stating she has classified clearance, and both politicians declared this was all part of a wider conspiracy.
“What they are doing is a cover-up for the president,” Nelson said. The supposition here, we presume, is that President Trump was monitoring all of these children's facilities in real time and sent word out to Deep South Florida to bar access.
Nelson is in need of regaining his footing among Hispanic voters, an area in which he has lagged behind his Republican challenger Gov. Rick Scott in the polls. For the senator to claim deep concern for the children is rather hollow, given Nelson himself said he only just learned of the Homestead facility this week from Schultz. This particular facility was opened in 2016 to house underage children who crossed the border. And more than five months ago, the Governor's Office notified all congressional offices -- Nelson's included -- that the facility had reopened.
More important, Nelson himself voted for the legislation that authorized the federal government to shelter unaccompanied immigrant children in federal facilities across the country, including the one in Homestead.
It needs to be noted, that date predates the arrival of the current occupant of the White House. The facility reopened this past March. Nelson was only able to speculate how many occupants were, in fact, separated from families, pegging that figure at “as many as 1,000 kids.”
The primary reason for the reopening is the current surge of migrants coming across the border. The DOJ has measured a growing influx of 200 percent from March 2017 to March of this year. This is due in part to the state of California declaring itself a sanctuary state during that time span, along with a growing list of cities declaring they will not follow ICE protocols regarding illegal immigrants.
What also needs to be noted is the media have launched an orchestrated effort to declare the various actions by the Trump administration "unprecedented" regarding the treatment of families crossing the border.
There has been a growing list of media reports attempting to smear the president as culpable of heinous actions regarding these children, only to then have it revealed the evidence presented predates his administration. Further, the concern for the plight of these children has to be regarded as cynical, given the media silence during the Obama years of migrant issues. The ACLU has compiled a trove of 30,000 documents detailing widespread abuse and neglect in numerous facilities holding immigrant minors, during the years 2009 through 2014.
To repeat: The abuse occurred during the years 2009 through 2014. Donald Trump was elected president in November 2016.
Following the initial rebuke of the politician horde, the facility opened itself up to the press and politicians on Friday -- and the result was revealing. After weeks of accusatory reports of horrific conditions, including children in cages, and buildings bursting with children forcibly extracted from their mothers’ arms, what we got was far less dramatic.
Patricia Mazzei from the New York Times was one of those permitted to tour the Homestead location. She detailed the campus-like facility, with beds and sheets for the resident kids. “Reporters were not shown anything that resembled cages or kennels for children. ‘We just don't operate that way,’ the director said. This is a former Department of Labor Job Corps site. It has fully equipped dorm buildings.”
Mazzei further explained how the arrivals receive five days' worth of clothing, with an average stay of 25 days before being placed with families. They are granted time for reading, and are provided schooling. As well as meals, the children are granted time for outdoor sports, art projects and counseling. If they have contact information, they are permitted to call relatives. About the worst detail of the conditions she reported: Many of the kids wore sweaters, because they were not used to internal air conditioning.
The Miami Herald was also on site and provided some sobering information regarding the numbers. The Homestead location is the second largest of these kinds of facilities in the nation. It currently is home to 1,175 minors (with a capacity of 1,350). Of those currently staying in Homestead, the number of those actually separated from parents upon arriving to this county totals ... 70.
This means nearly 95 percent of these children arrived in the country as unescorted minors.
Consider now these verified details, and weigh them against the hyperventilating-style reports we have been served of a monstrous president forcibly extricating kids from their families to jam them into cages and serve them gruel. Instead. we have a government program established to house and comfort an overwhelming majority of kids who arrive here without parental supervision.
This is actually the way a benevolent and compassionate country operates. It also defies the description we are being fed of immoral acts of an uncaring leadership. Expect this story to begin losing its grip on the headlines, and Nelson to lurch toward another issue he can politicize.
Brad Slager is a Fort Lauderdale freelance writer who wrote this story exclusively for Sunshine State News. He writes on politics and the entertainment industry and his stories appear in such publications as RedState and The Federalist.