The DHS watchdog reported disturbing conditions at its detention centers. Fox News spent months describing them as humane.

The DHS watchdog reported disturbing conditions at its detention centers. Fox News spent months describing them as humane. 

The new report shows that immigrants in detention centers are facing "unsafe and unhealthy conditions," including "dilapidated and moldy" bathrooms and raw food contamination

Blog ››› ››› COURTNEY HAGLE


Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

On June 3, the Office of Inspector General at the Department of Homeland Security released a report raising concerns about the treatment and care of migrants in DHS facilities. For the past year, Fox News figures have been defending the agencies involved in that care as well as the facilities.

The inspector general’s office and other groups have raised concerns about unsafe conditions in detention centers in the past, and the report details inspections of four facilities in California, New Jersey, Louisiana, and Colorado where immigrants face “unsafe and unhealthy conditions” in violation of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) standards. Some issues include expired food, raw food contamination, moldy or dilapidated bathrooms, and segregation practices that violate standards and “infringe on detainee rights.”

News outlets have also reported that solitary confinement is misused at various facilities, that ICE has deported former service members inappropriately, and that doctors have concerns about DHS practices and the conditions under which it keeps undocumented patients, including “shackling patients to beds and not permitting them to use restrooms.” Additionally, 24 immigrants have died in ICE custody during the Trump administration. Over the weekend, it was also reported that acting DHS Secretary Kevin McAleenan has called for Congress to change the asylum law so migrant families can be detained for longer than 20 days while their claims are being processed.

While some argue that these problems result from a lack of congressional funding, over the past 24 years, the amount of money spent on border security has increased 14 times. Immigrants’ rights groups like the National Immigrant Justice Center have also expressed concern over giving DHS more funding unconditionally; Executive Director Mary Meg McCarthy said she fears calls to give more money to shelters are “another ploy to secure tax dollars to lock people up.” The Congressional Hispanic Caucus has also said that it opposes “sending Trump even one more dollar for the border without a slew of strict conditions.” Psychologists have also raised awareness about the “high rates of serious long-term psychiatric and physical symptoms” students held in migrant detention centers face, including depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and developmental and behavioral regressions.

Despite the red flags that have been repeatedly raised about the treatment of migrants by DHS, ICE, and Customs and Border Patrol, Fox News has remained a strong defender of the agencies:

On her show, Fox host Laura Ingraham said that while “it’s sad when your family gets separated” at the border, “there’s only so much of the love you can spread around.” [Fox News, The Ingraham Angle, 7/2/18]

Ingraham claimed detention centers holding migrant children separated from their parents are “essentially summer camps” or “basically boarding schools.” She chided critics of these detention centers as “seiz[ing] on the separated children and turn[ing] the entire image into a political weapon.” [Fox News, The Ingraham Angle, 6/18/18]

Former Border Patrol chief Mark Morgan said the agency “should be applauded” for its policy of housing children in cages. He insisted that “those cages” are “designed that way” for “the safety and security of the people that are in there.” [Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 4/4/19]

On Fox & Friends, Morgan again argued about the description of the facilities as cages, insisting that they are just “chain link fence” for “safety and security.” He said criticisms of children being held in cages are “totally a false narrative” and “a talking point for the Democrats.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends3/7/19]

Fox & Friends co-host Ainsley Earhardt claimed that “you can’t even really blame an administration” for the policy of separating parents from children at the border. In April 2018, then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a "zero-tolerance policy," which caused the separation of children from their parents at the border. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 6/19/18; Politico, 5/7/18]

Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy chided those who “have referred to them as ‘cages,’” telling viewers to “keep in mind, this is a great big warehouse facility where they built walls out of chain link fences.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 6/18/18

On The Ingraham Angle, Fox News contributor Newt Gingrich claimed that people who compare child detention centers to concentration camps “despise and hate the United States.” He also said, “It’s really disturbing to have people on the left who hate their own country so much that they would use this kind of language.” [Fox News, The Ingraham Angle, 6/19/18]

On Fox & Friends, Fox regular Mark Krikorian asserted that detention centers “are not dog kennels” because “they’ve got cable from Central America.” He also claimed that while it’s not “the greatest thing in the world,” it “might actually be better than Honduras, where they’re coming from.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 5/31/18]

Commenting on the Trump administration's policy of separating children from their families, Fox host Jesse Watters said that “some would say it’s a more humane policy” than keeping them together. [Fox News, The Five, 5/29/18]

On Fox & Friends, Homan attacked Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) for pointing out ICE abuses. Homan insisted that Ocasio-Cortez “needs to do her homework,” claiming that “every time she opens her mouth, she’s wrong.” He asserted that “she ought to be saying thank you” to ICE agents instead of criticizing them. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 1/9/19]

On Fox & Friends, guest co-host Pete Hegseth accused migrants of “child exploitation.” He elaborated that “the blame goes on the parents for putting these kids at risk” and praised “what our agents are doing” as “incredibly humane and incredibly difficult.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 5/31/19]

While discussing the death of a migrant child from Guatemala, frequent Fox guest Brandon Judd said that “we’re going to continue to see these issues” if Congress doesn’t “give us the funding we need,” referring to Border Patrol. [Fox News, America’s Newsroom, 5/22/19]

On Outnumbered, Fox contributor Katie Pavlich agreed that some of CBP’s detention policies are “not humane,” but she claimed that “this is the only choice” the agency has. [Fox News, Outnumbered, 3/29/19]

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