This week, two Tweets set off an onslaught of news articles covering the separation of parents and children at the border between the United States and Mexico.
Jon Favreau, a Democrat and former Obama speechwriter, posted a photograph on May 27th featuring a facility located on the border. The image showed children asleep behind what can best be described as the wall of a cage. The children are laying on top of a few threadbare blankets.
“Look at these pictures,” Favreau wrote. “This is happening right now, and the only debate that matters is how we force our government to get these kids back to their families as fast as humanly possible.”
Despite the sentiment Favreau attempted to communicate—the importance of focusing on humanitarian action rather than partisan dominance—his Tweet became a flashpoint between President Trump and the Democratic Party.
The tweet, which has since been deleted from Favreau’s account, actually featured an image from 2014. While Favreau stated that the events in the picture were happening “right now," during the Trump presidency, the photograph was taken during the Obama era.
Favreau caught his mistake within a matter of minutes and posted a tweet with the correct date that the photograph was taken.
“These awful pictures are from 2014, when the government's challenge was reconnecting unaccompanied minors who showed up at the border with family or a safe sponsor. Today, in 2018, the government is CREATING unaccompanied minors by tearing them away from family at the border.”
Despite his fast correction, Favreau’s original tweet implying the current administration was responsible for the state of the children in the photograph did not slip past President Trump unnoticed.
“Democrats mistakenly tweet 2014 pictures from Obama’s term showing children from the Border in steel cages,” President Trump wrote on Twitter on May 29 in response to the photographs and tweets, which is a true statement. Favreau did admit that he believed the pictures he had posted were current.
However, the President went even further, stating in a roundtable meeting at the White House that Democrats are to blame for the separation of immigrant families at the border, which is untrue according to CNN.
The poignancy of the original photograph greatly diminished once is became a partisan issue.
The political back-and-forth that has sprouted from the original photograph has overshadowed the suffering of children in horrible conditions at the border. Instead of acknowledging the severity of the problem, the President and other influential political figures have pointed fingers instead of assuming the responsibility that comes with positions of power in government.
In this instance, the most influential individual, the one who has the greatest ability to enact a positive change amongst immigrant children who are being separated from their families for sustained periods of time, is President Trump. But he is perfectly willing to publicly blame the Democrats and President Obama for the state of the border.
Meanwhile, President Trump is pushing for the creation of a wall between those seeking asylum and those who have the power to grant it. Jeff Sessions, President Trump’s Attorney General, put the “zero tolerance” policy in place last month which requires all those who have crossed the border illegally to be faced with criminal prosecution. This is the legislation which is currently resulting in families being broken apart, picture or no picture.