On July 4, while other Americans were celebrating the nation’s 242nd birthday with cookouts or other observances, Newsweek’s “breaking news reporter,” the aptly named Benjamin Fearnow, was writing about the latest act of inhumanity visited on the nation in the name of immigration.
Fearnow’s explosive title — “Watch: Video shows what immigrant children face alone in court using real transcripts” — serves as a teaser for an embedded film by filmmaker Linda Freedman.
At the website of the film, titled “Unaccompanied: Alone in America,” Freedman explains her motivation for making the film:
I was sitting at my breakfast table, reading The Oregonian. I came across a piece written by Anna Ciesielski, a young lawyer working for Immigration Counseling Service, who represents unaccompanied children from Central America in immigration proceedings. She described the situations these children face and the nature of her work with them. And It broke something in me.
As I read her descriptions of children appearing in court alone, without a lawyer, I was filled with shock, and disbelief.
I cut out the article and taped it to the side of my computer, thinking that someone, somewhere, must be working to bring this story to light.
Freedman became that someone. The film, a video of which follows, is a dramatization:
The part of the “stern-faced immigration trial judge,” Fearnow tells us, is played by former Oregon Judge William C. Snouffer. The children are also actors, which, in the current political climate, has the unfortunate effect of giving the film the acrid flavor of base propaganda.
The project needn’t have been handled that way. The unadorned facts are sufficient to enraging and induce tears in any caring human being.
But what Newsweek conveniently omits is the month and year when Linda Freedman learned about these atrocities from her local newspaper. “It was mid-March, 2014,” she writes on the film’s website.
That this happened on Barack Obama’s watch is something that other media outlets will likewise fail to report. One source, the left-leaning Texas Tribune already has, instead making this another “Trump’s folly.”
The article acknowledges that “requiring unaccompanied minors to go through deportation alone is not a new practice,” but then its authors tell a bald-faced lie: “[I]n the wake of the Trump administration’s controversial family separation policy, more young children — including toddlers — are being affected than in the past.”
According to a defense of the Texas Tribune piece by Snopes, using data collected from Syracuse University, “58,015 unaccompanied children (i.e., juveniles under the age of 18 separated from their legal adult guardians) were subjected to deportation hearings in American immigration courts in 2017. That figure was 61,254 in 2016.”
It doesn’t matter what the numbers say. President Trump will take the brunt, if not all, of the criticism for these abuses in the same way he was blamed for the 2014 photographs of “caged” migrant children.