This weekend, CNN boosted a manufactured controversy as Twitter users complained about a moving picture of Ivanka Trump embracing her 2-year-old son Theodore James Kushner. Referencing recent reports about the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) being unable to track down nearly 1,500 unaccompanied alien children (UACs), and hundreds of illegal immigrant parents being separated from their children at the border, CNN asked the deep question: How could a mother so heartlessly share an image in which she is seen embracing her son?
“The president’s daughter Ivanka Trump is facing intense backlash for something that she posted on Twitter,” CNN anchor Brianna Keilar announced. “It’s a photo of her embracing her two-year-old son, and critics are saying that the post is really tone-deaf amid the reports of families being separated at the Mexican border.”
Keilar turned to White House reporter Sarah Westwood to discuss the offensive image. Westwood explained that the photo “comes, like you mentioned, amid scrutiny of the administration’s policies letting the government separate children from their parents at the border.”
As if to emphasize the pettiness of the attack, Westwood remarked that “it’s not the first time that Ivanka Trump has been accused of insensitivity on social media.” [OH, HORRORS! Not insensitivity on social media!!] “Recall, for example, in January of last year, right after her father was inaugurated, she posted a picture of her and Jared Kushner in fancy black tie attire, right after her father had signed that controversial travel ban.”
Indeed, many Twitter users erupted with outrage when Ivanka shared a date-night picture of herself and her husband on their way to the annual Alfalfa dinner at the Capital Hilton. The daughter of president had the nerve to share a glitzy image of herself and her husband on social media — HOW COULD SHE?!
Yes, Ivanka Trump shared a glitzy photo of herself and her husband while Trump’s refugee order was going into effect and many immigrants faced deportation. Yes, she shared a photo of herself and her son while illegal immigrant families apprehended at the border are temporarily separated in order to be charged with the crime they just committed.
The outrage boils down to two unrelated immigration stories. First, The New York Times and the Associated Press (AP) both reported last month that the U.S. government had lost track of nearly 1,500 migrant children it had placed into the homes of caregivers.
These reports came from the HHS’s Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), which reported on attempts to reach unaccompanied alien children (UACs) and their caretakers. Between October and December 2017, the ORR attempted to reach 7,635 UACs, but were only able to reach 86 percent of them. “OARR was unable to determine with certainty the whereabouts of 1,475 UAC,” the office reported.
HHS Deputy Secretary Eric Hargan later insisted that “these children are not ‘lost’; their sponsors — who are usually parents or family members and in all cases have been vetted for criminality and ability to provide for them — simply did not respond or could not be reached when this voluntary call was made.”
Tellingly, the HHS deputy secretary added, “While there are many possible reasons for this, in many cases sponsors cannot be reached because they themselves are illegal aliens and do not want to be reached by federal authorities.”
Not only are these children not “lost,” as reported by the Times and AP, but lax immigration standards are to blame.
Also last month, the Times reported that 700 children had been taken from their parents at the border since October 2017. While HHS does take care of these children, they are not considered UACs, and therefore have no clear connection with the nearly 1,500 “lost” children (who, again, are not really lost).
Even so, outrage over the first story bled into outrage over the second. While separating children from their parents is heinous, the policy follows from the administration’s desire to prosecute all illegal immigrants. As HHS stated, “If parents do not wish to be separated from their children, they should not violate the laws of the United States or endanger minors through criminal smuggling.”
This harsh policy underscores the importance of immigration reform, and both President Trump and the Democrats blame each other for obstinacy on the issue. Trump did offer a solution to the issue of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), but the Democrats turned it down.
Liberals also complained about a third story: an ACLU report about the children of migrants being abused. This report involved the Obama administration — between 2009 and 2014. The photos being blasted across social media of children in cages come from Obama’s tenure, not Trump’s.
Story 1: This story is based on an ACLU report that covers 2009-2014. It has nothing to do with the Trump admin or separating families as it mostly relates to unaccompanied minors at the border. However, the abuses were serious and systematic. Very possible many still occurring.
— (((AG))) (@AGHamilton29) May 28, 2018
In this context, many conflated the three issues, and then went on to attack Ivanka Trump for her Twitter post. “Isn’t it the just the best to snuggle your little one — knowing exactly where they are, safe in your arms? It’s the best. The BEST. Right, Ivanka? Right?” tweeted comedian Patton Oswalt.
Isn't it the just the best to snuggle your little one — knowing exactly where they are, safe in your arms? It's the best. The BEST. Right, Ivanka? Right? https://t.co/X79r8aWInc
— Patton Oswalt (@pattonoswalt) May 27, 2018
“An actual mother would have compassion for the children harmed by your father’s policies,” a user who goes by the name “The Hoarse Whisperer” tweeted. [So Ivanka’s photo suggests she is not an “actual” mother?] “Your contrived photo ops are absurd.”
An actual mother would have compassion for the children harmed by your father’s policies.
Your contrived photo ops are absurd.
— The Hoarse Whisperer (@HoarseWisperer) May 27, 2018
“Glad you know where your kids are,” Twitter user Kelly Sego tweeted. “Now what about the 1,500 moms whose kids were taken at the border … and now are lost? What about those children, ivanka?”
Glad you know where your kids are. Now what about the 1,500 moms whose kids were taken at the border … and now are lost? What about those children, ivanka?
— Kelly Sego (@zbirdmama) May 27, 2018
Again, the children are not “lost,” and it is perfectly acceptable for Ivanka Trump to share this kind of image on social media.
CNN’s decision to champion this “scandal” only shows that the anti-Trump outlet will do anything to criticize the president, even lambaste his daughter for sharing a heartwarming photo on social media.
Watch the CNN clip below.