Lawmakers, advocates and journalists are outraged at the the mural of President Donald Trump at a holding center for migrant children in Texas, labeling the painting and subsequent quote from Trump’s “Art of the Deal” book “Orwellian” and un-American.
“These children were torn from their mothers and shuttled into a de-facto prison, only to be greeted by a triumphant mural of the man who put them there,” Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) tweeted on Thursday. “This Orwellian propaganda is frightening.”
These children were torn from their mothers and shuttled into a de-facto prison, only to be greeted by a triumphant mural of the man who put them there.
This Orwellian propaganda is frightening. pic.twitter.com/1h4yLdSvvd
— Senator Bob Menendez (@SenatorMenendez) June 14, 2018
After touring the facility in Arizona on Wednesday, MSNBC reporter Jacob Soboroff said the kids in the center are “effectively incarcerated” and surfaced a photo of the mural on Twitter. The painting features Trump’s face smiling above the White House, with an American flag. It’s accompanied by a quote from Trump’s book “Art of the Deal,” where Trump describes his efforts to evict tenants from a building that he wanted to tear down in the 1980s.
“Sometimes by losing a battle you find a new way to win the war,” it says.
To be fair, each wing of the facility is named after a different President and features a painting of each with a quote, according to a Washington Post report on the facility. The quote alongside the painting of former President Barack Obama could be considered more inspiring to migrant children who were forced to stay in the facility after crossing the U.S.-Mexico border, either on their own or after being forcibly taken from their parents.
“My fellow Americans, we are and always will be a nation of immigrants. We were strangers once, too.”
Amy Siskind, an advocate and president of The New Agenda, tweeted a story that suggested the 1,500 10- to 17-year-old boys who are housed at the facility, called Casa Padre, were frightened by the Trump image. She called Trump a “dictator.”
Our dictator has put murals up for the migrant children to see as they are taken from their parents. This is not America.
“”Kids would tell me it was an odd image to see, that it scared them. They didn't like it.”” https://t.co/rL6GyjYYmh
— Amy Siskind (@Amy_Siskind) June 14, 2018
Some journalists compared the mural and conditions to concentration camps and Nazi Germany propaganda.
"Hey kiddies, Work Sets You Free." Who could possibly be surprised if that sign appeared over one of these concentration camps at this point? We have looked in the mirror and the enemy is us. https://t.co/IK3pIVKUPz
— Ken Silverstein (@KenSilverstein1) June 14, 2018
Detained migrant kids are greeted by a mural of the president and a quote from the Art of the Deal. No, it is not "Arbeit Macht Frei." https://t.co/FUN8U3Ts6n
— Tim Steller (@senyorreporter) June 14, 2018
Washington Post columnist Radley Balko said the image left him speechless.
I'm out of adjectives. We need new words. https://t.co/aGp0WUcBbU
— Radley Balko (@radleybalko) June 14, 2018
Select journalists were allowed to tour the facility on Wednesday after public outcry over Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) being barred entry from the facility earlier this month.
While only 5 percent of the boys housed at Casa Padre were younger children separated from their parents after crossing the border, the issue has received increased attention in recent weeks as the Trump administration cracks down on its “zero tolerance” policy of arresting adults who caught trying to enter the U.S. illegally. The children of those incarcerated are then taken from their parents, often in inhumane ways, to be housed separately.
Trump told reporters on Friday that he “hates” that families are being pulled apart at the border, but insisted Democrats must change the law.