16:10 GMT24 February 2020
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    US President Donald Trump went on the defensive Tuesday after liberals attacked his administration's policy on child immigrants – by sharing photos taken during Barack Obama’s presidency of immigrant minors at the US-Mexico border sleeping in steel cages.

    Ajamu Baraka, national organizer of the Black Alliance for Peace, told Radio Sputnik's Loud & Clear that neoliberal activists are ignoring Washington's long history of violating human rights and instead falling into mere "anti-Trumpism."

    ​The photos of caged children that sparked such ire on social media early in the week were taken by the Associated Press in 2014, when Obama was president.

    On Tuesday, Trump tweeted, "Democrats mistakenly tweet 2014 pictures from Obama's term showing children from the border in steel cages. They thought it was recent pictures in order to make us look bad, but backfires. Dems must agree to wall and new border protection for good of country… Bipartisan bill!"

    "These neoliberal activists should know better," Baraka told Radio Sputnik. Activists who shared the Obama-era photos, intending to shame Trump, include Shaun King and Linda Sarsour.

    Jon Favreau, a former Obama speechwriter, also retweeted the photo May 27 with the caption, "Look at these pictures. This is happening right now and the only debate that matters is how we force our government to get these kids back to their families as fast as humanly possible." 

    Two days later, Favreau wrote, "I tweeted a story that multiple journalists were posting. My mistake for not checking the date first. A few minutes later, when I realized my error, I deleted the tweet and immediately tweeted the correct info and date of the picture."

    "These activists have used precious resources and energy to target the Trump administration, which of course, we should," Baraka said. "But they are propping up a narrative that the Trump administration is a profound departure from the politics of neoliberalism that has been in command for the last few decades. We have been neglecting human rights under every administration."

    If activists are "serious about real social change in this country, we have to have clear politics," he advised. "We have to get rid of these liberal myths. We have a responsibility to keep the focus on developing the kind of critical consciousness that needs to be developed to be able to confront the contradictions of this system and not get caught up in the diversionary politics of the anti-Trumpism."

    Trump's tweet follows the admission by the US Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) in late April that it lost track of some 1,500 immigrant children who were settled with sponsors, another revelation that caused uproar among liberals online. 

    According to a report by USA Today, between October and December 2017, ORR was able to contact 7,635 sponsored children but cannot "determine with certainty the whereabouts of 1,475 children." An additional 25 children were reported to have simply run away. However, according to Steven Wagner, acting assistant for the Administration for Children and Families, it is not the ORR's responsibility to track what the children do after placement or to ensure that they show up at their immigration hearing. The ORR could have lost track of the children either because some families moved or because some families prefer not to come into contact with authorities because they are undocumented immigrants themselves.

    Also in April, the Trump administration announced its "zero-tolerance" policy, which promises to pursue criminal charges against any individuals who cross the US-Mexico border illegally.

    "Attorney General Jeff Sessions today notified all US Attorney's Offices along the southwest border of a new ‘zero-tolerance policy' for offenses under 8 USC § 1325(a), which prohibits both attempted illegal entry and illegal entry into the United States by an alien," the US Department of Justice said in a press release last month.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.


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