Media Give Biden a Pass on Border Detention Facilities They Called 'Concentration Camps' Under Trump

Migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border (Getty Images)
December 19, 2023

The media for years savaged former president Donald Trump for holding migrants in detention facilities they compared to concentration camps. The same outlets are giving President Joe Biden a pass for flirting with the same facilities.

Biden, whom the media feted for supposedly undoing his predecessor's "harsh and extreme" immigration policies, could soon revive those policies to secure emergency funding for Ukraine in the Senate. One policy in particular stands out: forced detention, where those apprehended crossing the border are held in government facilities indefinitely for immigration violations. Democrats have acknowledged that the policies are reminiscent of those implemented under Trump.

But the media's Trump-era invective is nowhere to be found in reports on the Senate's negotiations, replaced with descriptions of a "compromise" and "major changes." The Washington Post called the proposed moves "restrictions," while NBC News praised Biden for his willingness to "take the heat" to "get the deal done." Only CNN mustered a bit of criticism, lamenting that Biden's openness to "stricter" policies "puts him at odds with key allies tasked with selling his reelection."

Flashback: The media railed against indefinite holdings under Trump, calling them "concentration camps" and trodding out talking heads to decry the "callous" and "racist" policy.

New York Times, Aug. 21, 2019: "Migrant Families Would Face Indefinite Detention Under New Trump Rule":

The administration’s goal with the new rule is deterrence, and its message to families fleeing Central America is blunt: Come here and we will lock you up. Critics say it is the latest in a series of policies by President Trump meant to close off the United States from the rest of the world.

Washington Post, July 19, 2019: "How Migrant Detention Became American Policy":

And why comparisons to concentration camps failed to shut them down.

The Atlantic, July 3, 2019: "A Crime by Any Name":

The horrors detailed in the press were hard to believe. ...

If these acts do not represent animus toward those human beings the president has described as murderers, terrorists, and rapists, whom he declares an infestation, whom he identifies as the enemy by sending the U.S. Army to the border, whose families he has destroyed in a bid to inflict sufficient agony so as to deter future newcomers—if all of this does not make American immigration detention facilities concentration camps, it makes them far too close to the concept for any American to find acceptable.

This is, perhaps, the most daunting element of this entire conversation. If these facilities even vaguely resemble concentration camps, then American society has failed in ways many Americans do not want to contemplate.

CNN, June 18, 2019: "Ocasio-Cortez Compares Migrant Detention Facilities to Concentration Camps":

Ocasio-Cortez also referenced how some migrant children were being held in facilities formerly used to detain Japanese Americans during World War II. Last week, the Department of Health and Human Services, which is tasked with caring for unaccompanied migrant children, said it would use facilities at Fort Sill Army Base in Oklahoma to house minors.

Newsweek, June 20, 2018: "Trump Detention Centers Listed Alongside Nazi Concentration Camps on Wikipedia":

The Wikipedia entry "List of concentration and internment camps" has seen the addition of the Trump administration's child detention centers which are being used to house immigrant children. The extensive list includes concentration camps used by the Nazi regime.

MSNBC has yet to call Biden racist:

And the president likely won't be on the receiving end of a critical homily this Christmas:

But don't call it hypocrisy. To the New York Times, Biden's about-face is simply a reflection of "how drastically the politics of immigration have shifted to the right in the United States."

It appears the media's perspective has "shifted" along with it: