Twitter photos allegedly showing the Trump administration’s torturous treatment of migrant children at the Southwest U.S. border again went viral on social media over the weekend.
There was just one problem: the widely circulated photos had been cropped and stripped of their original timestamp…from 2015.
“Trump administration is forcing children 2 sleep on cement floor with an aluminum blanket & lights on all night,” actress Nancy Lee Grahn tweeted Friday, along with two photos showing migrants sleeping under what appear to be space blankets in a detention center.
Trump administration is forcing children 2 sleep on cement floor with an aluminum blanket & lights on all night. Sarah Fabian from DOJ argued in court that it was good enough & soap was unnecessary. Companies making 750 a kid a day to torture them. pic.twitter.com/XuNIVZwkJW— Nancy Lee Grahn (@NancyLeeGrahn) June 21, 2019
The General Hospital star’s tweet quickly wracked up more than 30,000 “likes” and an avalanche of comments from Twitter users outraged that Trump would “cage” and “torture” innocent kids.
Except that these photos are actually screenshots from detention center security footage from August of 2015, when former President Barack Obama sat in the Oval Office and well before Donald Trump had even won the Republican Party’s nomination for the 2016 presidential election.
these pictures are from 2015 under Obama and you cropped the time stamp out of the picture pic.twitter.com/j7i5BB0F6k— Caleb Hull (@CalebJHull) June 24, 2019
If that weren't bad enough, the shamelessly edited and deceptive photos aren’t the only twisted claim in Grahn’s tweet. The actress also took aim at Sarah Fabian, a DOJ lawyer who recently argued in federal court that the government had not violated the 1997 Flores Agreement’s “safe and sanitary” mandate by not providing migrant children with soap or toothbrushes and forcing them to sleep on concrete floors.
According to Grahn, Fabian's claim on behalf of the government was further proof that the Trump administration had begun torturing kids.
Except that, once again, the entire court case in question stemmed from a complaint filed back in – wait for it – 2016. Under Obama.
As fate would have it, the clip of [Fabian's] argument went viral at the same time as a new wave of reports of brutal and inhumane conditions at immigrant confinement centers. It also immediately followed the raucous debate over Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez referring to the confinement centers as concentration camps. The juxtaposition suggested, misleadingly, that the Trump administration was explicitly justifying the worst sorts of child mistreatment we were seeing on the news.
…Over the years, lawyers acting on behalf of minors protected by the Flores Agreement have filed numerous motions asking judges to enforce it, claiming that the government has fallen short of its obligations. They filed the motion now at issue in 2016, during the Obama administration, arguing that ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) and CBP (Customs and Border Protection) were violating the Flores Agreement by, among other things, confining minors in facilities that are not “safe and sanitary.”
Unsurprisingly, the tweets calling out Grahn's straight-up fake news tweet haven't gotten nearly the circulation her original false claims have.