The United States is in the midst of a massive formula crisis affecting some of the most vulnerable members of the population: babies. A perfect storm of numerous factors—pandemic-related supply chain delays; government bureaucracy; the stranglehold that just a few companies hold on the formula market; the closure of one of the biggest formula-manufacturing plants in the country, following the recall of contaminated batches and the death of two infants—has led to a terrifying reality for parents desperate and scrambling to feed their children. People who have the time—and many don’t—are driving long distances only to find empty shelves. Private sellers are reportedly price gouging, charging customers double or triple the normal amount. Unable to find what they need, some parents have been forced to ration formula as they search, often in vain, for more. One woman told The New York Times she recently found herself “freaking out, crying on the floor,” telling her husband, “Dude, I can’t feed our kids, I don’t know what to do.” The solution from Republicans, many of whom claim to be pro-life? Let the babies of undocumented parents starve. Or, at the very least, use the situation to demonize immigrants and score the cheapest of political points.
On Wednesday, Florida representative Kat Cammack tweeted a pair of photos, writing, “The first photo is from this morning at the Ursula Processing Center at the U.S. border. Shelves and pallets packed with baby formula. The second is from a shelf right here at home. Formula is scarce. This is what America last looks like.” Later, on Facebook, she claimed to have obtained the photos from a “border patrol agent” that’s been on the job for “30 years.” In the video, the congresswoman generously acknowledged that while all children deserve to eat, it’s not America’s job to feed the babies it detains.
“It is not the children’s fault at all,” Commack told her followers. “But what is infuriating to me is that this is another example of the ‘America Last’ agenda the Biden administration continues to perpetuate.” Cammack claims to be pro-life and only supports abortion in extreme cases in the first trimester, according to Fox News. She is cochair of the House Pro-Life Caucus and, naturally, is thrilled about the news that the Supreme Court is poised to overturn Roe v. Wade.
One day after Cammack’s suggestion that the migrant children the U.S. government has locked up should be forced to go hungry, Texas governor Greg Abbott jumped on the bandwagon, issuing a joint statement with the National Border Patrol Council: “While mothers and fathers stare at empty grocery store shelves in a panic, the Biden administration is happy to provide baby formula to illegal immigrants coming across our southern border…. Our children deserve a president who puts their needs and survival first—not one who gives critical supplies to illegal immigrants before the very people he took an oath to serve.” Like Cammack, Abbott would like people to believe he is “pro-life,” and signed a bill last September banning abortions after six weeks, leading to a surge of copycat legislation across the country.
Also on Thursday, Texas congressman Troy Nehls tweeted, “Baby formula should go to Americans before illegals.” (You can probably guess where Nehls stands on abortion.) And we’re sure it’ll absolutely shock you to hear that Fox News also believes migrant children should be forced to starve to death. As Media Matters’ Matt Gertz notes, a small selection of commentary from the networks’ stars over the past two days has included: “Why are we feeding illegal babies ahead of American babies?” (Jesse Watters); “These are not people that respected our borders, our laws, and our sovereignty. Why wouldn’t all of the pallets go to American families first?” (Sean Hannity); and “Once they get here, the Biden administration will give them food supplies that you can’t buy. Those would include baby formula…. How much more of this are people going to take, you wonder? It’s too humiliating” (Tucker Carlson). Fox, of course, has been a major voice in the antiabortion movement.
As The Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler notes, federal law literally requires the government to provide food—as well as other basic human rights—to the people it detains. But that reality is a mere stumbling block for Republicans in their longtime quest to demonize people who weren’t born here. As Jezebel’s Caitlin Cruz wrote on Thursday: “Migrants and immigrants of all ages are the perfect boogeymen. First, they take their jobs; now they want to take food out of babies’ mouths, while also forcing women to carry their pregnancies to term. The hypocrisy is so thick I am choking on it.”
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