The Trump administration is detaining undocumented children after separating them from a parent — does it matter that this viral photo doesn't really show a migrant kid or a real jail?
The Trump administration is detaining undocumented children after separating them from a parent — does it matter that this viral photo doesn't really show a migrant kid or a real jail?
Snopes.com

Arizona Lawmaker Catherine Miranda Defends Posting Staged Photo of Detained Kid

Does it matter if a viral photo depicts a staged scene, as long as the political point is accurate?

Catherine Miranda, a longtime Arizona lawmaker who's running for Congress, believes it does not.

She blasted a Facebook user on Wednesday who pointed out that a photo she posted on her personal Facebook site to bring attention to the Trump administration's immigration policies had been debunked on Snopes.com.

The photo, which was shared widely on social media this week, shows a crying boy gripping the bars of a cage that also contains several other children.

"How does taking a 4-year old from their parents and jailing them make us safer?" Miranda wrote on the post with the photo. "The cruelty of trumps policies of today are real. Families belong together not torn apart and most definitely should not be caged like an animal."

Deyanira Nevárez Martínez quickly responded with the note, "I agree with your words but this isn’t a picture of that," and included a link to the Snopes.com article about the photo.

As the famous debunking website wrote, the photo is from a protest in front Dallas City Hall. Activists who oppose the administration's policy of separating families who cross the international border illegally.

"The photograph was quickly decoupled from its source (as happens quite often on the Internet), and then it was circulated with various descriptions and captions that left the mistaken impression the pictured boy was a child who had been caged by immigration authorities," Snopes wrote.

Judging by other comments on her Facebook page, some people did get that "mistaken impression" because of the photo. But Miranda didn't take kindly to Martinez's truth-telling.

"You’re part of the problem of division," Miranda told her. "If I’m letting people know an example of a pic that Trump supports...jump on board with fighting against it. Stop being part of dividing our Latino community."

Martinez responded that she thought Miranda would find the Snopes info "useful" and said "spreading fake stuff" was a problem.

"It isn’t hard to find a real and equally infuriating picture of what is going on," she said.

Indeed, according to Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley, who toured a detention center for migrant children last week, the photo may well show the reality that the public hasn't yet been allowed to see.

Merkley described how children were housed behind chain-link fence structures as small as 12 feet by 12 feet. He told reporters after his tour that images of children in a "dog-kennel style setting" had been "seared" into his mind.

The Trump administration says the detention of children is a side effect of a new policy requiring the detention and prosecution of all suspected illegal border-crossers, because children can't be detained safely with adults. However, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions indicated that the separations themselves might have a deterrent effect.

Debate raged on Miranda's site, with some people saying the fact that the photo was staged is irrelevant, and others insisting that posting a "fake" photo diluted her message.

"She never stated this was an actual picture of a child detained by ICE," Malena Sandoval said in support of Miranda. "This is a true event happening right now it's not this child but there are children out there who are suffering."

MiykalLi Stewart, who self-identified as a documentary photographer, disagreed: "Passing along factual imagery is so important in a day and age where we are programmed to respond to imagery vs text."

When asked to comment about the post, Miranda indicated she was willing to answer questions about it. But after saying that, she didn't respond to messages.

Miranda's running in the Democratic primary for Arizona's 7th Congressional District, hoping to unseat incumbent Ruben Gallego.

As Twitchy.com reported on Tuesday, Jose Antonio Vargas, the famed undocumented activist-journalist, tweeted the photo on Monday with the comment, "This is what happens when a government believes people are 'illegal.' Kids in cages."

Vargas' post was shared thousands of times, but hours later Vargas tweeted that he didn't know the source of the photo, leading Twitchy to call his tweet "journalism in reverse."

Twitchy followed that article up with one today, titled — "Busted!" — which revealed that the photo had been staged during a protest. 

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