BAD TIMING

The State Department Had a ‘Family Travel’ Q&A. It Went Just as You’d Expect.

The Department of State’s travel division held a “Family Travel” Facebook Live—while thousands of families are separated at the border. The internet responded appropriately.

Photo Illustration by The Daily Beast

Tone deaf is the name and, apparently, the Department of State’s game. The government department that oversees international travel held a “Family Travel” Facebook Live video Tuesday morning to answer U.S. citizens’ questions on traveling with children at the same time as thousands of families remain separated at the U.S. Mexico border.

The department used Twitter and Facebook to advertise the chat where two members of passport services answered questions submitted by social media users. Before the chat began, the State Department’s social pages encouraged users to ask “questions about applying for U.S. passports for your kids.”

“Are you traveling with kids this year? Have questions about getting their passports, and want tips to make travel easier?” Join us for this Facebook Live with Carl and Kim from Passport Services,” the event description read. It also encouraged users to ask questions about document requirements and other tips to “make sure your vacation this summer goes smoothly.”

The irony, and timing, of the event—which the State Department labeled as #FamilyTravelHacks—did not escape social media users. They came with plenty of questions, but not the kind that the government department expected.

State Department representatives Carl and Kim kicked off the chat by asserting that they are both parents. The two asked watchers to comment with questions, but both failed to address any of the above questions throughout the chat.

Instead, Kim explained about how easy it was to get her children a passport.

“It was during the work week, I didn’t have to find a place open on a Saturday. We were both off from work, it was really convenient,” she says, with a smile. “Now all three of my children have passports and they all have global entry—all to travel without worrying.”

Carl said he plans on driving “across the border” to Canada with his family, and got his children passport cards, instead.

In their questions, many users alluded to the oblivion of the state department's Q&A that happened right smack in the middle of talks of a “broken” immigration system and images of children in cages circulate the internet. Despite calls to reverse the zero-tolerance policy that spurred the border chaos this week, Trump buckled down on the policy.

In a series of tweets, he said migrants are trying to “infest” America.

“Democrats are the problem. They don’t care about crime and want illegal immigrants, no matter how bad they may be, to pour into and infest our Country, like MS-13,” he wrote. “They can’t win on their terrible policies, so they view them as potential voters!”

When asked about the timing of the Q&A and whether the State Department had reservations on the responses to the campaign, it responded with the below statement:

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“#FamilyTravelHacks is a public awareness campaign with tips and reminders for U.S. citizens applying for their U.S. passports – the targeted audience is young parents applying for their child’s first U.S. passport. Our goal is to share practical tips for getting a U.S. passport for U.S. citizens and their families to prepare for summer vacations. The #FamilyTravelHacks campaign is a seasonal outreach campaign and some of the messages are similar to the ones we shared during last year’s summer campaign.  Many of the messages are part of the ongoing outreach Passport Services does throughout the year to help explain to parents how to apply for their kids’ U.S. passports.”  

Better luck next year.