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Fact check: Image of Jill Biden handing out food to asylum-seekers in 2019 is missing context

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Back to school visit for Jill Biden and education chief Miguel Cardona

Jill Biden, the teacher in the White House, along with new Education Secretary Miguel Cardona go back to school in a public push to show districts that have yet to transition back to in-person learning that it can be done safely. (March 3)


The claim: Image shows Jill Biden handing out food and gifts to asylum-seekers in Matamoros, Mexico; ‘Has anybody seen her in Texas helping Americans yet?’ 

A viral meme shared by users across Facebook asserts that first lady Jill Biden traveled to Mexico to hand out food and gifts to asylum-seekers but did not provide assistance to those in Texas struggling in the aftermath of the deadly winter storms. 

“Jill Biden handing out food and gifts to asylum-seekers in Matamoros, Mexico,” reads a  Feb. 26 post with over 300 shares. “Has anybody seen her in Texas helping Americans yet?”

Similar versions of the claim have been shared by other users and Facebook pages such as Trump’s Storm Group. 

Accompanying the text is an image of the first lady handing out food to a crowd. The posts do not specify the date the photo was captured, however, some users in the comments criticized Biden for not wearing a mask, suggesting that the image was captured recently.

USA TODAY reached out to the users and Facebook page for comment. 

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Image is from 2019

A reverse Google search of the photo used in the claim shows that it comes from Biden’s December 2019 trip to a refugee camp in Matamoros, Mexico, across from the Brownsville, Texas, border. 

No one in the photo is wearing a mask or social distancing because it was taken prior to the coronavirus pandemic, not recently, as the claims suggest.

While she was at the refugee camp, she handed out food and Christmas toys to asylum-seekers waiting at the U.S.-Mexico border during the holiday season under former President Donald Trump’s “remain in Mexico” policy, Texas Monthly reported. 

“Congressman Filemón Vela and I joined Team Brownsville and Sister Norma of Catholic Charities for a holiday Tamalada with the thousands of asylum seekers living in mud and tents by the U.S. border,” Biden tweeted in 2019. 

The photo used in the meme was taken from a Dec. 23, 2019, video of Biden handing out the food with volunteers to asylum-seekers at an event. 

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President Biden and first lady visit Texas

The posts also falsely suggest that the first lady has not been in Texas to assist those who were left without power and water after the winter storm in February.

The president and first lady visited Houston at the end of February to meet with local leaders to discuss the storm and a road to recovery, according to the Texas Tribune. 

Jill Biden and Texas first lady Cecilia Abbott visited the Houston Food Bank, where they met with volunteers and packed meals for seniors through the food bank’s Senior Box program, USA TODAY reported on Feb. 26. 

The Bidens were also given a tour of the food bank by Houston Food Bank CEO Brian Greene. 

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Our rating: Missing context

The claim that Jill Biden was handing out food and gifts to asylum-seekers in Matamoros, Mexico, is MISSING CONTEXT based on our research. The posts fail to mention that the image is from a 2019 trip before the pandemic and that the first lady recently visited Houston with President Joe Biden to provide assistance to Texans impacted by the winter storms. 

Our fact-check sources: 

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Our fact check work is supported in part by a grant from Facebook.

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