Trump Defends Family Separation Policy: ‘Only 2000’ Kids Separated From Parents

June 19, 2018 10:30 a.m.

President Donald Trump defended his migrant family separation policy on Tuesday by arguing that “only 2000” children had been separated from their families as at the border as a result of the policy.

He appeared to be referencing Department of Homeland Security data for child separations between April 19 and May 31. The actual number is larger than that.

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen told reporters Monday: “The vast majority, vast, vast majority of children who are in the care of H.H.S. right now — 10,000 of the 12,000 — were sent here alone by their parents. That is when they were separated.”

The Trump administration’s new policy is not simply to arrest everyone caught crossing the border in between ports of entry.

Rather, on April 6, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a formal “zero tolerance” prosecution policy, ordering U.S. attorneys to criminally prosecute everyone apprehended at the border. Because children cannot be placed in criminal detention, the policy has resulted in a spike in children being separated from their parents. Children had been separated from their parents in the months before the April announcement as well, albeit in a less systematic way.

In more tweets Tuesday, Trump urged Congress to change immigration law, even though he or Sessions could immediately end the family separation policy without Congress, and referenced Germany. In reality, contrary to Trump’s tweet, Germany’s overall crime rate is at its lowest since 1992, its interior minister said in May.

Trump also tweeted about the recent Justice Department inspector general’s report on the FBI and DOJ’s behavior ahead of the 2016 elections. The report found that bias did not affect Hillary Clinton ultimately not being charged with a crime, and on Monday, the inspector general re-affirmed to Congress that the report did not look at questions of Russian collusion.

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