Exposing Fake News by the Pulitzer Prize Winner: Child Migrant in a Cage
DALLAS, TEXAS – June 14, 2018
In June 2018 Twitter and Facebook users began circulating a disturbing photograph depicting a small boy who was detained by ICE in 2018 being held in a cage. A sobbing toddler is clutching the bars of a cage in which he is confined. These posts were accompanied by commentary stating that the image depicted a boy who had been detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in 2018 and criticizing the Trump administration's immigration policies as being responsible for the youngster’s plight.
Later it turned out, that the photograph was taken on 10 June 2018, but it did not show a child confined by immigration authorities in a cage. Rather, it was snapped during a protest staged in front of Dallas City Hall to call attention to the Trump administration’s practice of separating families and confining undocumented children. Different photographs of the event document that the same child was standing in a mocked-up “cage” which was open at the top, and several commenters noted that the boy was crying not because he was confined, but because he saw his mother outside the pen and could not immediately figure out how to get to her.
The initial Twitter post, which launched the circulation, was done by Jose Antonio Vargas with the description “This is what happens when a government believes people are “illegal.” Kids in cages.” Jose Antonio Vargas is a journalist and activist who in 2011 revealed that he unknowingly entered the U.S. with false documents as a child.
Vargas was born in the Philippines, where he lived until he was 12. In 1993, he moved to the United States to live with his American grandparents, initially unaware that he was living in the country illegally. He disclosed his immigration status in 2011, writing in an essay for the New York Times Magazine, "I am still an undocumented immigrant. And that means living a different kind of reality. It means going about my day in fear of being found out. It means rarely trusting people, even those closest to me, with who I really am. ... It means reluctantly, even painfully, doing things I know are wrong and unlawful.”
Without the correct information that the whole event was staged and the location where the picture was taken, it has left the mistaken impression the pictured boy was a child who had been caged by immigration authorities. In 2008 Jose Antonio Vargas earned a Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News Reporting.
Vargas also has worked for the San Francisco Chronicle, the Philadelphia Daily News, and The Huffington Post.