This morning 1/9/19, I was watching a popular TV talk show, “the View” where one of the hosts, Meghan McCain could be heard defending republican President Trump’s policy of separating migrant children from their families who were legally seeking US asylum at the US SW border during the summer of 2018, by touting a new frequently used GOP talking point, “President Barack Obama was the one who started this policy.
This is a lie.
It is important that “Never Trumpers” are armed with the facts regarding this misleading assertion. Calling Ms. McCain, a liar, isn’t an effective response.
Every credible fact checking website disputed Meghan McCain’s claim except one, the 6/21/18 McClatchy report, “Yes, Obama separated families at the border, too” by Franco Ordonez and Anita Kumar. The analysis referred to the housing of unaccompanied children in tent cities which isn’t the same practice as that of the President Trump’s administration which systemically forced the separation of children from their families where the adults were to be arrested and treated like criminals as soon as they stepped over the US border.”
The McClatchy report referred to Leon Fresco, a deputy assistant attorney general under Obama, who defended that administration’s use of family detention in court, and who did acknowledged that some fathers were separated from children.
“Most fathers and children were released together, often times with an ankle bracelet. Fresco said there were cases where the administration held fathers who were carrying drugs or caught with other contraband who had to be separated from their children.”
As per the 6/19/18 Hill report, “Trump cannot blame policy of separating children on Obama” by Todd Rosenblum, “The Trump administration’s decision to forcibly separate more than 2,000 children from parents requesting asylum (at US) southern border is morally reprehensible. It is nothing like the Obama administration’s decision in 2014 to place unaccompanied minors in closed housing units until they could be transferred to family in the US while they awaited court proceedings.”
“I was the senior civilian defense official at the Pentagon overseeing defense policy on this matter during the 2014 crisis. The first core fallacy of President Trump is to equate former President Obama’s policy of temporarily holding unaccompanied children in closed centers with its decision to forcibly separate accompanied children from their parents upon surrender to U.S. authorities. In 2014, the government’s action was to temporarily hold the children pending determinations of their legal status.”
“The surge of 2014 was a real spike and compelled a firm but humane response. (Even though the numbers were much greater in 2014 than in 2018), it was not hyped to be a national security or existential threat to the country, but our immigration laws had to have integrity. We agreed deterrence had to be a large part of the solution. The overwhelming percentage of unaccompanied minors coming to our southwest border were from Central America. Citizen insecurity, poverty and violence was, and still is, tragic in much of the region.”
“After processing, the unaccompanied minors were transferred to custody of the Department of Health and Human Services. This was a critical event, as the children moved from legal processing centers to administrative detention built around the controlled welfare and care of noncriminal persons. Trump’s policy to treat all entrants as presumed criminals, at least those from Central America, is profoundly unfair. Border Patrol agents told me repeatedly that the vast majority of entrants were economic migrants.”
“This is a second core difference between today and 2014. At no point did any of us suggest traumatizing children to be an appropriate deterrent or negotiating chit. Trying to suggest the Obama administration did something similar in 2014 is a third Trump administration’s fallacy in trying to assert parallel response. The Obama administration prioritized unaccompanied children and non-detained families above other cases in the immigration courts.”
Here’s the rest of the story…
As per a June 2018 Snopes.com fact checking report, “Did Barack Obama Oversee the Separation of 89,000 Children From Their Parents:”
Under President Barack Obama, 89,000 children were separated from their immigrant parents at the United States border.
“The Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy became the leading political issue of the summer of 2018, with images and accounts of children being separated from their detained immigrant parents causing widespread outrage and fierce debate.”
“In light of this outrage, some commentators — many but by no means all supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump — sought to highlight the immigration policies of former president Barack Obama and leveled allegations of hypocrisy against Trump’s liberal opponents, reminding them that some critics of Obama referred to him as the “Deporter-in-Chief” during his administration due to the record number of deportations that took place during his two terms”
“On 23 June 2018, the right-wing “Federalist Papers” Facebook page published a widely-shared meme which claimed that Obama had overseen the separation of 89,000 children from their parents at the United States border with Mexico, alleging a “double standard” and “media bias” against Trump.”
This exposes the huge double-standard and media bias against Trump.
“The 2 figures included in the meme do not describe the same thing, and the meme is fundamentally compromised by a gross misrepresentation of the differing immigration policies of the Obama and Trump administrations.”
“The administration of President Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions introduced a new “zero tolerance” immigration policy in April 2018. Whereas previously, those found crossing the border into United States (without documentation) were largely subjected to administrative proceedings, before being deported, the zero tolerance policy instructed border agencies and immigration courts to arrest immigrants for violating U.S. immigration laws, and subject them to criminal trial, prosecution and incarceration, before their eventual deportation.”
“One necessary and foreseen consequence of this new policy was that adults who crossed the border from Mexico into the U.S. along with their children would have their children taken away from them while they were detained, pending criminal trial, and during their period of incarceration.”
“In a speech about the zero tolerance policy, in May 2018, Sessions made it clear that the separation of children from their parents was a foreseen and intended component of the policy (of deterrence).”
“I have put in place a “zero tolerance” policy for illegal entry on our Southwest border. If you cross this border unlawfully, then we will prosecute you. It’s that simple. If you’re smuggling a child, then we will prosecute you and that child will be separated from you as required by law.”
“As a result of the new policy, 2,342 children were separated from their parents between 5 May and 9 June 2018, according to multiple news reports which cited official figures provided by a Department of Homeland Security spokesperson on 19 June 2018.”
“Since the policy began with a 6 April memo distributed by Sessions, and persisted after 9 June 2018, the real number of children separated from their parents at the border is likely to be significantly higher. The figure of 1,900 presented in the Federalist Papers meme was out of date by the time it was published on 23 June 2018.”
“The Federalist Papers Facebook figure of 89,000 is likely to have come from a January 2016 AP investigation”
“That investigation didn’t refer to the number of children separated from their parents upon crossing the Mexican border into the US. Instead, the Associated press tracked the fate of children who entered the US on their own, a cohort known as “unaccompanied alien children” (UACs.) Therefore, any comparison between the figure of 89,000 and the figure of 1,900 is utterly spurious and grossly misleading:”
“As tens of thousands of children fleeing violence in Central America crossed the border in search of safe harbor, overwhelmed U.S. officials weakened child protection policies, placing some young migrants in homes where they were (harmed), an Associated Press investigation has found.”
“Without enough beds to house the record numbers of young arrivals, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services lowered its safety standards during border surges in the last 3 years to swiftly move children out of government shelters and into sponsors’ homes. The procedures were increasingly relaxed as the number of young migrants rose in response to spiraling gang and drug violence in Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, according to emails, agency memos and operations manuals obtained by AP, some under the Freedom of Information Act.”
…”Advocates say it is hard to gauge the total number of children exposed to dangerous conditions among the more than 89,000 placed with sponsors since October 2013 because many of the migrants designated for follow-up were nowhere to be found when social workers tried to reach them.”
“In other words, the figure of 89,000 refers specifically to the number of children who arrived in the US alone between October 2013 and January 2016 and were placed with sponsors throughout the country. It doesn’t refer to children whom US border agencies separated from their families, which is the case with Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy.”
“Official figures aren’t available for the number of children taken from families while their parents underwent criminal prosecution after being detained at the border during Obama’s tenure as president. We asked the Department of Homeland Security for those numbers and received no response.”
“That means it isn’t possible to make a precise statistical comparison between Obama and Trump on this specific outcome. However, immigration experts and former Homeland Security officials agree that the rate of child separation under Obama is likely nowhere close to what has been seen under Trump.”
“Criminal prosecution for improperly crossing into the US was the exception under the Obama administration, whose policy largely limited that approach to known criminals and repeat offenders. Under the “zero tolerance” policy implemented by Trump and Sessions, criminal prosecution for any unauthorized border crossing is the rule rather than the exception.”