Reprinted with permission from Press Run
Eagerly joining forces with partisan Republicans, the Washington Post over the weekend uncorked a doomsday write-up about the surge of young migrants currently overwhelming U.S. facilities along the Southern Border. Laying all of the blame for the three-decade problem directly at the feet of the new, two-month-old Democratic administration, the Post article echoed every conceivable GOP talking point.
What the piece failed to do was include crucial context for a complicated policy puzzle, and to delve deeply into whether Trump spent four years deliberately creating a border crisis that Biden is now trying to fix.
The Post also included no context for how Biden's brand new administration has been addressing border crossings while at the same time dealing with the aftermath of a deadly insurrection, an impeachment trial, and passing the largest social spending bill in U.S. history. All in less than 60 days.
The Post is hardly alone in manically hyping the border story, at the behest of the GOP. In a highly unusual move, ABC This Week staged its entire Sunday program from the border, in order to focus on the "emerging crisis for the Biden administration."
On Saturday night, Post reporters fanned out on Twitter to tout their breathless story, which Republicans quickly seized upon. "'No end in sight: Inside the Biden administration's failure to contain the border surge," posted Josh Dawsey of the Post. Even more frantic was the tweet from colleague Nick Miroff: "How the Biden admin's poor planning, botched messaging, rush to repudiate Trump and a broken asylum system unleashed the biggest border surge in 20 years, with "no end in sight""
Fact: This is not currently the "biggest border surge in 20 years." It's not even close.
The Post article, as Julian Castro advisor Sawyer Hackett noted, was "pure hot garbage, beginning to end." He added, "Where the fuck was the outrage when Trump deported 13K children last year?"
Designed to portray the White House as poised on the brink of a defining and perhaps fatal failure, the Post article was drenched in politics instead of policy — "Republicans are reveling in the administration's border problems." The piece stressed the issue of immigration could be a loser for Democrats — it could cost them the House in 2022! — and even "overshadow" the administration's success in vaccinating tens of millions of Americans in recent weeks, and passing the wildly popular $1.9 trillion relief package. All of that could be forgotten, the Post stressed, because more people are trying to cross the U.S. border. That's an absurd premise that only adds up if you're trying tell this story from a Republican perspective.
Among the article's more egregious failures was its refusal to mention that the surge in unaccompanied minors at the border began during Trump's last year in office, as well as a surge in adults seeking asylum, the Trump team's refusal to cooperate with the Biden White House transition, and the Republicans' deliberate delay in confirming key cabinet members who most closely work on border issues.
Additionally, the article quoted former Department of Homeland Security secretary Chad Wolf attacking the Biden administration. Wolf was a key member of Trump's anti-immigrant border team who worked overtime creating deliberately ineffective, chaotic, and cruel policies, which Democrats are now trying to fix. But Wolf gets to spout off in the Post about how Biden has created a crisis?
Is Biden alone responsible for the current surge? Not according to the Washington Post's own reporting just four months ago: "Attempted crossings have risen as migrants fled the aftermath of powerful hurricanes in Central America and as crime, hunger and political instability continued to ravage numerous countries in Latin America." That's now all been flushed down the memory hole, as the Post amplifies GOP attacks and targets Biden, and Biden alone for the surge.
Also disturbing was the premise from the Post piece, which echoed a Republican talking point: 'There are too many undocumented people crossing the border and in U.S. custody!' Left out of that simplistic and alarmist narrative is the fact that they're in U.S. custody because this Democratic administration has adopted a humane policy of not sending children back to often unlivable conditions. Basically, the Post penalizes Biden for trying to fix Trump's deliberate mess, by wildly hyping the change in border numbers.
"The politicians and the pundits trying to push America back to the "good old days" of 2018, of ripping families apart or condemning them to inhumane refugee camps in Mexico, are shameless," stressed the Philadelphia Inquirer's Will Bunch, after the Postarticle was published.
In terms of border crossing apprehensions, 2021 is currently on pace to match the 2019 surge under Trump. Where was the panic-stricken media coverage about the border "crisis" then, and how the Republican administration had no policy answer? In truth, Trump touted the huge influx in 2019 because he thought it was good politics for wanting to build a mythical wall across America's southern border, which Democrats opposed.
So when a Republican was in the White House, he claimed the huge border surge was bad news for Democrats, and the press largely played along. Two years later, the press is once again playing along with Republicans, claiming a huge border surge is bad news for Democrats.