Misleading: The Biden administration has shipped pallets of baby formula to migrant holding facilities despite a national shortage.

By: Varun Kumar
May 25 2022

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Misleading: The Biden administration has shipped pallets of baby formula to migrant holding facilities despite a national shortage.


The Verdict Misleading

It is misleading to blame Biden for the shortage. Moreover, the president is bound to provide for migrants according to the Flores Agreement.

Claim ID e98611e3

Amid a shortage of baby formula pallets across the U.S., Kat Cammack, a Republican lawmaker in Florida, released images of dozens of boxes of the coveted product at a migrant processing facility near the US-Mexico border on May 11, 2022. In the Facebook video, she claimed that the "Biden administration is sending pallets of baby formula to the border to feed illegal alien children amid a nationwide shortage that's left thousands of American parents scrambling to provide for their babies." She also stated that a border agent at the Ursula migrant processing center in McAllen, Texas, sent her photos of shelves stocked with baby formula from a shipment that had just arrived, among other supplies intended for immigrants and their children. However, the claim is misleading. According to "The Flores Agreement," an act passed in 1997 aimed at providing for immigrant children in the custody of the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), "the government must provide standards of care and comfort, including food, water, and medical care" to people in government custody. A 2015 U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) document about detention standards states that "Food must be appropriate according to at-risk detainees' age and capabilities (such as formula and baby food)." The U.S. CBP said that the agency would provide food, diapers, clothing, and baby formula to the thousands of Central American migrants who sought asylum in the U.S. during former President Donald Trump's administration. Former President Donald Trump also followed the terms of the Flores Agreement and sent baby formula to centers during his tenure. When asked about the photo of baby formula at the US-Mexico border during a White House press conference on May 14, 2022, Press Secretary Jen Psaki referred to the Flores Settlement Agreement. She noted that every presidential administration had followed the law since 1997. A severe baby formula shortage has been reported for weeks across America as parents panic. According to The New York Times, the shortage follows a mass recall by formula maker Abbott in February 2022, after four babies fell ill consuming the products. The company voluntarily recalled three types of baby formula: Similac, Alimentum, and EleCare, manufactured at an Abbott facility in Sturgis, Michigan. The announcement comes after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) received four consumer complaints about bacterial infections caused by the formulas. Following the national shortage, on May 18, 2022, President Biden invoked the Defense Production Act to ensure formula manufacturers are first in line for any raw materials they require, NPR reported. He also directed the Defense Department to use commercial airline contracts to expedite formula delivery from abroad. The New York Times quoted Steven L. Schooner, a professor of government procurement law at George Washington University, stating that it is doubtful that the agency's purchases were the reason for the effect on the current supply of baby formula. "I'm extremely confident that any volume of formula that D.H.S./C.B.P. buys is statistically the equivalent of zero in terms of market share," he wrote in an email, referring to the agency and the Department of Homeland Security. "Indeed, I'd be stunned if the government bought any significant volume." Moreover, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there were 3.6 million births in the United States in 2020. The number of infants detained at the border with their families is significantly lower. In March, immigration authorities arrested 37,818 people traveling with a family member. CBP regulations limit migrant detention to three days, so the amount of formula consumed by infants while detained is very small. Considering the pallets of baby formula being sent to the border are insignificant compared to the market share, and the baby formula shortage in the country was caused by recalls, supply chain issues, and purchasing patterns, it is misleading to place the blame on Biden. Also, the Biden administration is bound by the Flores Agreement, and has been invoking powers such as the Defense Production Act to address the shortage. Thus, we mark this claim as misleading.

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