Fox News host Laura Ingraham likened the detention centres for children of parents who’ve been detained by U.S. border officials.
The U.S. recently started enforcing a zero-tolerance policy toward all undocumented migrants who enter the country. Adults are being detained and charged with crimes, while the children are being taken away and put into foster care or shelters.
The centres keep people enclosed in metal chain-link cages and have kids sleeping on the floor on mats, according to pictures from border officials.
At one centre – a former Walmart – over 1,500 boys are housed and given two hours of outside time per day. Reports say they spend their time watching movies and playing games inside the facility.
They are allowed two phone calls per week.
In an audio recording, children can be heard crying and calling for their parents as they’re moved into these facilities.
Some people have called the forced-separation child abuse.
Despite that, Ingraham said the centres were “essentially summer camps.”
“As more illegal immigrants are rushing the border, more kids are being separated from their parents,” Ingraham on her show on Monday. “And temporarily housed at what are essentially summer camps.”
At the end of her show, Ingraham already noticed the backlash from her comparison – and said she would instead compare the detention centres to boarding schools.
“Apparently there are a lot of people very upset because we referred to some of the detention facilities tonight as essentially like summer camps. The San Diego Union Tribune today described the facilities as essentially like what you would expect at a boarding school,” she said. “So I will stick to ‘There are some of them like boarding schools.’”
The article in question from the San Diego Union Tribune said, “Many elements of Casa San Diego, an El Cajon facility for unaccompanied children who arrived at the southern border, seem like what one would expect from a boarding school.”
It also described the excessive amounts of security in the camps, including fencing, privacy netting, 24-hour video surveillance and alarms.
In a non-sequitur, she also said the U.S. should make it easier for Americans to adopt children from Central America.
“We should make adoption easier for American couples who want to adopt these kids who are true candidates for adoption because our policies don’t allow that,” she said. “So let’s put our hearts out there for the kids in the right way. Take care of them the right way. Open your hearts and your homes to them.”
In a statement to the Associated Press, Fox News said that Ingraham’s “very personal, on-the-ground commitment” to children in need speaks for itself, as does her belief “in a common sense, legal immigration system, which will continue to be a focus of her show.”
Fox News won’t “tolerate or give in to attempts to silence diverse viewpoints by agenda-driven intimidation efforts,” the statement said.
Fox News’ continued coverage of the detention centres – which has included baseless claims that the pictures shown by mainstream media depict child actors along with a call from host Tucker Carlson for people to ignore media reports on the centres – has prompted many celebrities to speak out against its parent company.
Family Guy creator Seth McFarlane announced he was “embarrassed to work” for the company in a tweet.
He also donated $2.5 million to National Public Radio and other news gathering efforts.
Comedy movie mogul Judd Apatow also came forward – urging other Fox talent to speak out against the company, saying the Murdoch family, which owns Fox, “promotes evil ideas and greed and corruption.”
He also accused U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions of being a “f—ing kidnapper” and called for more stars and executives to stand up to the media company.
“Where are the Fox stars and executives speaking up?! Imagine if it was your kids… How can you remain silent when they promote these policies?” he wrote.
Paul Feig, a filmmaker who’s done films for 20th Century Fox, posted Tuesday that he can’t condone the support of Fox News “toward the immoral and abusive policies and actions taken by this current administration toward immigrant children.”
Following Apatow’s tweets, “Modern Family” creator Steve Levitan added his voice to the chorus (“Modern Family” airs on ABC, but is produced by Fox 21 Television Studios), declaring he’s “disgusted to work at a company that has anything whatsoever to do with @FoxNews,” earning the thanks of Apatow.
*with files from ET Canada and the Associated Press