WH Spox Denies Having Family Separation Policy, Then Admits To It

Deputy White House press secretary Hogan Gidley on Monday asserted it was “false” that the Trump administration had instituted a policy of separating families at the border immediately before contradicting himself, admitting to and justifying that exact policy.

In an interview with Gidley, “Fox and Friends” co-host Brian Kilmeade asked: “Do you think that the message from the media is correct that your administration is separating parents, moms and kids?”

“It is completely false,” Gidley said. “This is all the Democrats’ doing, and let’s be clear about what they’re asking us to understand and believe. Democrats are saying you can’t deport them, you can’t detain them, you can’t prosecute them. The only thing you can do, per a Democrat, is to release them into the interior without any ramification for what they’ve done by breaking our laws. It’s absolutely incredible.”

“There are only one of two things that can happen when they come here. You have to either release them into the interior of the United States as a family unit, or you have to separate the families.”

Aside from Gidley’s admission that the Trump administration has begun to systematically separate parents from children who are apprehended at the border — a result of Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ April order to U.S. attorneys to institute a “zero tolerance” criminal prosecution policy for border crossers — the White House spokesperson told several lies during the interview.

For one, Democrats have not said immigrant families cannot be detained. In fact, the Obama administration expanded administrative — not criminal — detention centers for families awaiting immigration proceedings (it was criticized from the left for doing so, and a judge ultimately ordered an end to the practice). And as Vox’s Dara Lind notes, there are lots of alternatives to detention: Immigration authorities can release families together while ensuring they show up to immigration court dates — with ankle bracelets, for example, and watchful case officers.

Gidley added later, in response to a separate question from Ainsley Earhardt: “There is a separation that occurs because the law exists that way. It’s a farce to believe you can keep them together.”

That’s not true. The Trump administration went until early April without a declared policy of criminally prosecuting everyone apprehended at the border. Sessions made a choice to institute the new “zero tolerance” policy, superseding the previous policy of not systematically prosecuting parents who came to the border with children.

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