The State Department Picked the Very Worst Time to Offer Family Travel Tips

What could go wrong?

Chris Kleponis/ZUMA

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The State Department’s offer seemed benign and well intentioned: to share best practices for families planning to travel abroad with their children. The problem was the timing.

The Facebook Live event, which was dubbed “Family Travel Hacks,” was widely slammed Tuesday as tone-deaf amid outrage over the Trump administration’s zero-tolerance immigration policy that is separating an average of 65 immigrant children a day from their parents at the border. The initiative, which was also announced on Twitter, was quickly “ratio-ed“—given far more comments (presumably negative ones) than likes and retweets:

Despite the unfavorable initial response, the State Department went ahead with the live event. On Facebook, the initiative received an even harsher reception.

“What tips do you have to beat the heat for toddlers imprisoned in a concentration camp in Texas in 100+ degree heat?” user Matt Schneider asked. “And what type of baby pajamas will go best with a tin foil blanket?” (As of this writing, Schneider’s comment is the event’s top comment.)

“Awww it’s so fun to fly with your kids,” another commented sarcastically. “Your kids who are safe and sound and not locked away in a cage away from anyone and anything they’ve ever known.” 

“Is the orientation seminar for children before or after they are torn, screaming from the arms of their parents?” one asked.

Some questioned whether the State Department was trolling critics of the administration’s aggressive new immigration policy. Unsurprisingly, the employees at the State Department running the live event opted to reply only to users asking for travel tips in earnest.

The mounting outcry over the Trump administration’s immigration policy is showing no signs of slowing down, as Democrats, former first ladies, the United Nations, US governors, and some Republican lawmakers all speaking out against it. One social media campaign to help reunite families separated at the border is on track to exceed $6 million in donations after launching only days ago.

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Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2020 demands.

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