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Fox News is responding to the major shortage of baby formula by focusing its viewers’ ire on a familiar scapegoat: undocumented immigrants. The right-wing network’s biggest stars are complaining that while American parents are struggling to find formula for their children, the Biden administration is lavishing the scarce resource on migrant babies in U.S. immigration detention facilities.

Let’s start from the beginning: There are infants, brought across the border to the United States through what is self-evidently no fault of their own, who are detained under the U.S. government’s control. Like all babies, they are helpless, entirely at the mercy of the adults around them. The babies need to eat. In some cases, they may be separated from their mothers; in others, their mothers may be unable to produce sufficient breast milk. Since the law and basic human decency require governments to feed people they have detained, the U.S. government makes formula available. The alternative is babies starving to death in U.S. custody.

Meanwhile, there is currently a major shortage of baby formula in the United States. There are many reasons for this shortage, including the consolidation of formula suppliers, supply chain issues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, bacterial contamination that forced a recall of some formula stocks and the shuttering of a major manufacturing plant, U.S. trade policy, and the general disregard U.S. policy has for children. The shortage is a crisis for many parents, who are unable to find the food they need for their babies.

Republicans have put these two things together and decided to blame President Joe Biden for the formula shortage on the ground that his administration is providing formula to migrant infants in detention facilities. After Rep. Kat Cammack (R-FL) posted a photo of what she described as “shelves and pallets packed with baby formula” at a major border processing and detention center alongside another photo of an almost-empty formula shelf at a U.S. store, her party started running with the angle. “Our children deserve a president who puts their needs and survival first – not one who gives critical supplies to illegal immigrants before the very people he took an oath to serve,” Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said in a statement on Thursday.

Fox hosts, in their role as the GOP’s primary propagandists, are playing a key role in promoting this grotesque talking point. All of the network’s star hosts ran with the story on Thursday evening and Friday morning, demanding to know, as Jesse Watters put it, “Why are we feeding illegal babies ahead of American babies?" They described migrant babies getting formula when American babies can’t as something “humiliating” that should “infuriate” their viewers.

The most charitable way to look at this argument is that the Republican politicians and Fox hosts making it don’t really want Biden to starve migrant babies to death – they are just cynically using the specter of fed migrant babies to anger desperate American parents for political gain and ratings. But the direct logical extension of it, if it were carried out, would be the U.S. government starving to death the helpless infants it has in its custody.

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

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Reprinted with permission from Alternet

So far, Joe Biden's presidency has marked a return to the U.S./Mexico border policy of the Obama years. Biden and others in his administration have stressed that border security is a priority but firmly rejected the widely criticized policy of separating families at the border that former President Donald Trump installed. Biden's change in policy, according to reporting by the Daily Beast's Scott Bixby and CNN's Kate Bolduan this week, is reflected in the reunion of some families that were separated at the border under Trump's presidency.

"Nearly three years to the day after the Trump Administration first forcibly separated thousands of undocumented parents from their children in order to discourage others from seeking asylum," Bixby reports, "the Department of Homeland Security has begun reunifying families torn apart by the policy — four families, to be exact, with a few dozen more expected in the coming weeks."

Bixby points out that the Trump Administration's "zero tolerance" policy at the U.S./Mexico border resulted in "an estimated 5500 families" being separated.

According to Bixby, "Advocates warn that it may take years to reunite parents and children separated by the policy — and could add to the rising crush of undocumented people seeking to enter the United States via other means. The Biden Administration announced, in February, that it was creating a task force in charge of reuniting families separated under 'zero tolerance' and other Trump-era initiatives intended to discourage migrants from coming to the United States."

On Monday, Alejandro Mayorkas — secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security — announced, "The Family Reunification Task Force has been working day and night, across the federal government and with counsel for the families and our foreign partners, to address the prior administration's cruel separation of children from their parents. Today is just the beginning. We are reuniting the first group of families; many more will follow, and we recognize the importance of providing these families with the stability and resources they need to heal."

On CNN, Bolduan reported Wedneday that one of the Biden-era reunions had taken place in Philadelphia — where a Honduran mother who arrived at the border with her two sons in 2017 was reunited with them. The woman was deported from the U.S. and separated from her sons, and they have been staying with extended family. In Philadelphia, the sons saw their mother for the first time since the separation.

Bolduan discussed that reunion with Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the ACLU's Immigrants Rights Project.

Speaking to Bolduan from Philadelphia, Gelernt said of the reunion, "I almost don't have the words to describe it. It was so emotional, really just gut-wrenching, these boys hugging their mother for what seemed like an eternity — all of them sobbing, the extended family sobbing…. If you could see this family and the hardship they had gone through — and then, the joy in being reunited. That's what it's ultimately all about."

Bolduan pointed out that when the Honduran woman was separated from her sons, they were teenagers. One was 14, the other 15; now, they are both in their late teens.

Gelernt told Bolduan, "I think anybody who has teenage sons — you know, these were 14- and 15-year-olds — knows how difficult a period that is. These boys came to another country, to another culture, had to learn a new language. And they had to navigate all of that without their mother. It's just unimaginable. They've stayed strong, and for them to see their mother was just unbelievably joyous."

Bolduan asked Gelernt what will happen to the family now that they have been reunited, to which the ACLU attorney replied, "So, she will be allowed to stay for a minimum of three years with work authorization. But the more important thing is the ACLU is negotiating with the Biden Administration for far more than that. It's not enough just to reunify these families; we need to get them compensation. We need to get them social services, including mental health services. And we need to get them legal permanent status."

Gelernt added, "We'll never make these families whole again, but we need to try at least try — and that's the minimum. So, these are the first four families. It's a long haul."

Watch the video below:

CNN/Family separation