New Flashpoint in Border Controversy: Term 'Cages'

Or are they 'security pens'?
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 18, 2018 1:39 PM CDT
New Flashpoint in Border Controversy: Term 'Cages'
This photo provided by U.S. Customs and Border Protection shows a detention facility in McAllen, Texas, Sunday, June 17, 2018.   (U.S. Customs and Border Protection's Rio Grande Valley Sector via AP)

When a reporter from the AP visited a facility in McAllen, Texas, where immigrant children are being held, he described the scene like this: "Inside an old warehouse in South Texas, hundreds of immigrant children wait in a series of cages created by metal fencing. One cage had 20 children inside." Other stories have similarly used the term "cages," and that has emerged as another flashpoint in the controversy over the separation of children from their parents at the border. Details and related developments:

  • Fox News: Fox host Steve Doocy objects to the word "cages." On Monday, he said, “I’m from a farm community. To me, I see the chain-link fences, it’s more like a security pen to me," reports Mediaite. Doocy elaborated: “While some have likened it to—them to concentration camps or cages, you do see that they have those thermal blankets, you do see some fencing, but keep in mind—some have referred to them as 'cages,' but, keep in mind, this is a great, big warehouse facility where they built walls out of chain link fences.”

  • Official view: CBS News tweeted Monday that US border officials reached out to CBS This Morning "and said they are 'very uncomfortable' with the use of the word cages. They say it's not inaccurate and added that they may be cages but people are not being treated like animals." The actual statement from US officials was not presented, though the sentiment was being widely ridiculed, as here at the Cut.
  • Trump lashes again: The president unleashed a tweet-storm Monday again blaming Democrats and he doubled down in person later at the White House. "The United States will not be a migrant camp and it will not be a refugee holding facility ... not on my watch," he said, per NBC News. "Immigration is the fault, and all the problems that we’re having because we cannot get them to sign legislation, we cannot get them even to the negotiating table, and I say it’s very strongly the Democrats' fault." He called what's happening "so sad."
  • Sessions: Attorney General Jeff Sessions defended the new zero-tolerance policy at the border as necessary. "We do not want to separate children from their parents," he told the National Sheriff's Association. But if immigration laws are not enforced, "we encourage hundreds of thousands of people [per] year to likewise ignore our laws and illegally enter our country," he said, per the AP.
  • Similar point: DHS chief Kirstjen Nielsen, at the same event, also defended the zero-tolerance policy and suggested some would-be immigrants were taking advantage of children by merely posing as their parents. "This get-out-of-jail-free card for families and groups who pose as families has spread—the word of this has spread—the smugglers and traffickers know these loopholes better than our members of Congress." She called on Congress to "close the legal loopholes."
  • The families: About 2,000 children have been separated and detained over the last two months, and the New Yorker reports that the federal government has no formal policy in place to make sure that families separated at the border will be deported home together.
(More immigration stories.)

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