US President Donald Trump has backed down from restarting the much-criticized practice of separating migrant children from their families at the US southern border with Mexico.
“We’re not looking to do that,” Trump told reporters during an Oval Office event on Tuesday. “Once you don’t have it, that’s why you see many more people coming. They’re coming like it’s a picnic, because let’s go to Disneyland,” he said.
“Just so you understand, President Obama separated the children,” Trump told reporters. “Those cages that were shown, I think they were very inappropriate, they were built by President Obama’s administration, not by Trump. President Obama separated children, they had child separation…I’m the one that stopped it.”
However, Trump Operating under the same immigration laws as Barack Obama, Trump instituted a zero-tolerance policy aimed at detaining everyone who was caught crossing the border illegally and criminally prosecuting all the adults.
Trump’s zero-tolerance policy resulted in heart-rendering images of kids being kept in cage-like facilities, and parents being reunited with young children who didn’t seem to recognize them after long separations. By June of last year — after more than 2,300 families had been separated — Trump signed an executive order walking it back.
During the Obama administration and before Trump’s zero-tolerance policy was introduced, migrant families caught illegally entering the U.S. were usually referred for civil deportation proceedings, not requiring separation, unless they were known to have a criminal record.
Shortly after his giving his statement to the reporters, Trump tweeted out an old Fox News clip about children being held in overfull facilities during the height of the border crisis in 2014, when more than 47,000 unaccompanied children were apprehended trying to cross the border during just during the first eight months of the year.
The policy meant adults were taken to court for criminal proceedings and their children were separated and sent into the care of the Health and Human Services Department.