Trump Makes Renewed Case For Family Separation

US President Donald Trump inspects border wall prototypes with Chief Patrol Agent Rodney S. Scott in San Diego, California on March 13, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
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President Donald Trump on Sunday repeated a well-worn falsehood about former President Barack Obama’s immigration record while making a new affirmative case for separating migrant and asylum-seeking families.

News broke in October that the Trump administration, seeking a path around legal restrictions concerning the government detention of children, was considering a second family separation policy, one which would put the onus on parents to decide either to stay detained with their children, as a family unit, or to allow their children to be transferred to government custody and eventually to foster care or a sponsor relative.

Unlike Trump, Obama never oversaw a policy of systematically separating families arrested at the border. Obama, like other presidents, did separate families under certain circumstances, such as when familial links were in doubt, or where there was evidence of abuse or human trafficking.

Trump, on the other hand, separated thousands of children from the families with whom they’d traveled to the border regardless of their individual circumstances. Under former Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ “no tolerance” policy — which was discontinued after a national outcry — every family caught crossing the border illegally was prosecuted for a criminal offense. As a result, because children cannot be held in criminal detention, families were systematically separated.

While it’s true that the Obama administration temporarily detained migrant and asylum-seeking children in cages — as the Trump administration still does — the now-infamous Obama-era photos were of unaccompanied children arrested at the border, not of children who traveled with families.

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