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Multiple Outlets Retract Stories on Trump-Admin Child Deportations that Relied on Obama-Era Data

Two young girls watch a World Cup soccer match on a television from their holding area where hundreds of mostly Central American children while being processed and held at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Nogales Placement Center in Nogales, Ariz., June 18, 2014. (Ross D. Franklin/Pool via Reuters)

Multiple news outlets on Tuesday retracted articles indicating that the Trump administration currently holds over 100,000 illegal immigrant children in detention, after it became clear that the statistic reflected child detentions in 2015 when Barack Obama was president.

The United Nations released a report on Monday claiming that 100,000 children were being held in U.S. immigration detention facilities, but the report’s author, human-rights lawyer Manfred Nowak, then clarified to the Associated Press that 2015 was the latest year for which Nowak’s team could find data. The AP found U.S. government statistics showing that 69,550 illegal immigrant children have been detained over the past year.

Reports from the Associated Press, Reuters, NPR, and Al Jazeera all misrepresented Nowak’s data as representative of current detention levels.

“Reuters decided to withdraw its story after the United Nations issued a statement on November 19 saying the number of children in detention was not current but was for the year 2015,” a spokesman for Reuters told the Daily Caller. Reuters deleted the story entirely, without putting up a replacement, and NPR promised to update its story in light of the correction.

“We have temporarily withdrawn this story about U.S. incarceration rates of children because the U.N. study’s author has acknowledged a significant error in the data,” read a statement from NPR on the story page. “We will post a revised article with more complete information as soon as possible.

The AP put up a replacement story citing the correction from the U.N.

Meanwhile, a report from the Washington Post revealed that the Obama administration had deported far more illegal immigrants during his first three years in office than President Trump. This may be due to the demographics of recent migrants, who are largely from Central America and more difficult to deport than Mexican nationals. During the later years of the Obama administration, Mexican nationals made up a majority of illegal immigrants, making deportation easier due to the contiguous Mexico-U.S. border.

Zachary Evans is a news writer for National Review Online. He is a veteran of the Israeli Defense Forces and a trained violist.

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