Accuracy in Media

Self-proclaimed undocumented citizen and former Washington Post reporter Jose Antonio Vargas helped fan the flames of the immigration debate last week when he tweeted a photo of a young child in a cage saying “This is what happens when a government believes people are ‘illegal.’

“Kids in cages.”

The tweet has been widely circulated to bolster claims that the Trump administration is separating migrant children from their parents at the border and making them suffer by putting them in cages.

Except there is a problem with Vargas’ tweet, as the picture is not from a real illegal immigration incident, but from a June 10 event organized by the Texas chapter of the Brown Berets de Cemanahuac, a Latino advocacy group, against Trump administration immigration policies at Dallas City Hall.

The pictures of the caged children were taken by Leroy Pena, head of the Brown Berets’ Dallas-Fort Worth chapter, who took the picture in Vargas’ tweet. Pena told CNN that the boy cried when he saw his mother and was only in the cage for about 3o seconds and expressed frustration over how it was taken out of context.

“I posted this on my personal profile and it was not set to public, but only friends. They shared it. Some of them shared it without my comment,” he said. But the image “did help bring attention to the plight of undocumented children,” Pena said.
Vargas was criticized for his tweet, but said he would not delete the image because what is happening is “way worse than we were depicting,” and that it was much like what he personally experienced being in a jail cell as an “undocumented journalist.”

In addition to the tweet, Vargas also posted the image on his Facebook page where it has been shared more than 11,000 times.

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