National News

As U.S. Divides Migrant Families, It Bids Americans Bon Voyage

Posted June 19, 2018 11:35 p.m. EDT
Updated June 19, 2018 11:36 p.m. EDT

It might not have been the most opportune time for the State Department to hold a Facebook Live chat on how to travel with children.

In the midst of the Trump administration’s crackdown on the southern border that has separated crying children from their parents and incited a national uproar, the State Department’s consular affairs unit held a question-and-answer session via Facebook on Tuesday intended for American families going abroad.

“Join us for our #FamilyTravelHacks chat!” the Facebook post caption reads. “Ask us your questions about applying for U.S. passports for your kids, document requirements, and tips to make sure your vacation this summer goes smoothly.”

The responses spoke volumes.

“Do you recommend cage training for children to get them used to arriving in the US?” Facebook user Matt Schneider commented. “How long should I leave them alone in a cage to get them used to being imprisoned alone?”

Another user, Theresa Rowe, asked: “What is the process for getting my children back once the US Government has separated them from me and incarcerated them?”

The question-and-answer session was hosted by two passport service workers who identified themselves as Carl and Kim and described their experience in obtaining passports for their children.

They displayed the standard 2-by-2 inch passport photographs of their children. Kim explained that the State Department accepts photos of newborns even if their eyes are closed.

“We understand how difficult it is and we don’t want to make the parents’ life very difficult,” she said.

Some users asked straightforward questions, including how to replace lost or stolen passports.

But many of the responses were sarcastic.

“I think she’s reading the comments. Looks uncomfortable.” said user Julee Steele, observing Kim’s facial expression during the live chat. “I’m surprised they decided to cover this topic right now.”

Reporters on Tuesday did not ask questions about the Facebook session during a briefing at the State Department. On the policy of separating parents and children, a spokeswoman, Heather Nauert, said the State Department is not involved in overseeing the practice.