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NPO publishes blog articles to inform and to stimulate conversation about issues of importance to NPO's mission.  All blog articles express the opinions of the authors as individuals and do not necessarily reflect the views of National Parents Organization, its Board of Directors, or its executives.  

June 24, 2018 by Robert Franklin, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

The to-do about the Trump Administration’s decision to enforce criminal law by arresting undocumented aliens, even when they’re in the company of minors gets more hypocritical, ironic and frankly dishonest with each passing day.  It started with a photographic image of kids in holding cells that went viral over social media.  That photo was quickly taken down when it was revealed that it had been taken in 2014, i.e. during the Obama Administration, and therefore couldn’t be used to denigrate the current president.

Then Time Magazine ran on its June 12th cover a photo of a little girl, distraught and weeping, staring up at an apparently unmoved Donald Trump.  The caption read “Welcome to America.”  Of course no such little girl was ever in Trump’s presence.  It was a photo montage, and that much at least was evident.

What wasn’t evident was that, far from being a poster child for the heartlessness of Trump’s policies, the little girl is in fact the precise opposite.  Read about it here (Daily Mail, 6/21/18). 

If that were all there were to the matter, we could put it down simply to the type of hypocrisy we so often see in the press.  As I and so many others have pointed out, the people currently tearing their hair about the plight of some 2,000 children separated from their parents by Trump’s policies, have never lifted a finger or a voice on behalf of children taken from their fathers via divorce or from their parents via CPS.  Many of them, like the New York Times, routinely demean fathers, thereby promoting their marginalization by courts.

But amazingly, the usual hypocrisy is neither the end nor the worst of it.

You see, the little girl on the Time cover hasn’t been separated from her mother at all.

In an exclusive interview with DailyMail.com, [the girl’s father, Denis Javier Varela] Hernandez, who lives in Puerto Cortes, Honduras, says that he was told on Wednesday by a Honduran official in the US that his wife and child are being detained at a family residential center in Texas but are together and are doing 'fine.'


So the poster child for the trauma of children separated from their parents, well, has never been separated from her mother.  They are together and doing fine.  That’s the dishonest part.

Now for the irony.

Readers probably noticed that I said the child, Yanela Denise, hasn’t been separated from her mother.  That’s true; they’re together.  But what about her father?  She has indeed been separated from him, but not by the Trump Administration or any other U.S. official.  No, she’s been separated from her loving father by, you guessed it, her mother.

Denis said that his wife had previously mentioned her wish to go to the United States for a 'better future' but did not tell him nor any of their family members that she was planning to make the trek.


'I didn't support it. I asked her, why? Why would she want to put our little girl through that? But it was her decision at the end of the day.'…


He said that Sandra set out on the 1,800-mile journey with the baby girl on June 3, at 6am, and he has not heard from her since.


'I never got the chance to say goodbye to my daughter and now all I can do is wait', he said, adding that he hopes they are either granted political asylum or are sent back home.


In short, little Yanela Denise is the victim of parental kidnapping.  She was taken from her home and father in Honduras, subjected to a long and dangerous trip and now she’s detained in a foreign land about which she knows nothing.  Her mother did that despite it’s being against the wishes of Yanela’s father.  That’s kidnapping according to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.  It, like all parental kidnapping, is also child abuse.

So there we have it.  The little girl who was supposed to exemplify the brutality of the Trump Administration (a) does no such thing because she was never separated from her mother, (b) has in fact been separated from her father, not by any U.S. official, but by her mother and (c) has been abused and placed in danger by her mother in the process.

As recently as this past Thursday, Times’s Editor-in-Chief said about the cover:

Under the policy enforced by the administration, prior to its reversal this week, those who crossed the border illegally were criminally prosecuted, which in turn resulted in the separation of children and parents. Our cover and our reporting capture the stakes of this moment.


Indeed it does, just not in the way the EIC meant.

By any standard, this is as big a failure of the narrative insisted on by the press as one could imagine.  It’s factually false and, in their zeal to attack Trump, the media have ended up promoting the very thing they supposedly oppose – the separation of children from their parents.  It’s an achievement of sorts, I suppose.  After all, it’s not easy to be wrong both factually and morally about all aspects of such a story, but Time managed.

I wonder how many stories we’ll read in the next few days about the mother’s abuse of little Yanela, about the serious problem of international child abduction, about the kind, loving father waiting helplessly back home.  But truly, I think I know.  Having failed as a weapon with which to assail President Trump, the media will forget Yanela Denise and move on to other things, all the while continuing to assure us of their deep devotion to “the children.”

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