Accuracy in Media


An Associated Press story on poor treatment of detainees blamed President Trump for conduct that occurred under his predecessor.

Under a headline that reads: “Young immigrants detained in Virginia center allege abuse,” reporters Michael Biesecker and Garance Burke report on “federal court filings that include a half-dozen sworn statements from Latino teens jailed there for months or years.”

The filings pertain to their treatment at the Shenandoah Valley Juvenile Center near Staunton, Va. The suit was filed Oct. 4, 2017, but the actions it alleges all occurred in 2016 before President Trump took office.

The number of children in federal care went from 6,600 in 2011 to more than 57,000 in 2014 – all under the Obama administration. “The surge,” reported wmra.org, “caused the [Office of Refugee Resettlement] to scramble for beds, contracting with more detention facilities.”

One of those was the Shenandoah Valley facility, where few staff spoke Spanish or had training in dealing with mental health issues. The filings allege they were beaten while handcuffed, locked up for long periods in solitary confinement, where they were left nude and shivering in concrete cells.

In addition to the claims of the juveniles involved, AP cited a former child-development specialist who worked at the facility saying she saw kids there with bruises and broken bones they blamed on guards.

The story does not identify the dates the offenses occurred. It does say, “Many of the children were sent there after U.S. immigration authorities accused them of belonging to violent gangs, including MS-13. President Donald Trump has repeatedly cited gang activity as justification for his crackdown on illegal immigration.”

“Trump said Wednesday that ‘our Border Patrol agents and our ICE agents have done one great job,’ cracking down on MS-13 gang members. ‘We’re throwing them out by the thousands,’ he said.”

If that was not enough to imply Trump was responsible for incidents that took place before he took office, the next paragraph states: “But a top manager at the Shenandoah center said during a recent congressional hearing that the children did not appear to be gang members and were suffering from mental health issues resulting from trauma that happened in their home countries – problems the detention center is ill-equipped to treat.”

It then points out the children involved in the lawsuit were caught crossing the border illegally alone. “They were not the children who have been separated from their families under the Trump administration’s recent policy and are now in the government’s care.

“But the facility there operates under the same program run by the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement. It was not immediately clear whether any separated children have been sent to Shenandoah Valley since the Trump administration in April announced its ‘zero tolerance’ policy toward immigrant families, after the lawsuit was filed.”




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