On 17 June 2018, right-wing blogs published a flurry of stories reporting that the administration of former United States President Barack Obama had handed immigrant children over to human traffickers.
The reports were posted in response to the public outcry over a policy enacted by Obama’s successor, Donald Trump, whose administration in April 2018 announced a “zero tolerance” immigration policy. Under this policy, all adults who are caught crossing the southern U.S. border between ports of entry are being charged with federal crimes and then separated from accompanying children.
As the policy went into effect, news reports documenting scenes of distraught, traumatized children being torn from their parents by immigration authorities, and images migrant children being held in cages, created a backlash from both sides of the political spectrum against the Trump administration.
In response to the growing fallout, the president’s supporters wrote up stories criticizing his predecessor based on a 2015 criminal case and 2016 Senate report stemming from a Marion, Ohio human trafficking ring that used migrant children for forced labor on an egg farm. Right-leaning blogs like WesternJournal.com’s Conservative Tribune for example confusingly reported the media was “silent” about the case while aggregating their story from a New York Magazine report:
“The United States government placed an unknown number of Central American migrant children into the custody of human traffickers after neglecting to run the most basic checks on these so-called ‘caregivers,’” New York magazine reported in 2016, based on a Senate report.