Here we go again. While brushing off reports that he is planning on revamping his highly controversial policy of separating migrant families at the United States southern border, Donald Trump blamed Barack Obama for family separations. It's at least the second time he's done so and the second time he's been downright wrong. Yikes.
“President Obama separated the children,” Trump told members of the press at the White House on April 9. According to Huffington Post, he repeated the claim multiple times, adding:
Those cages that were shown, I think they were very inappropriate. They were built by President Obama’s administration, not by Trump. President Obama had child separation. Take a look. The press knows it, you know it, we all know it. I’m the one that stopped it. President Obama had child separation.
Elite Daily reached out to representatives for Obama for comment on Trump's claim, but did not hear back by the time of publication.
Even wilder is that Trump praised the policy in the same breath, saying that if such a regulation wasn't in place, migrants would be taking their children to Disneyland. "Now I'll tell you something, once you don't have it that's why you have many more people coming," he said, per NPR. "They are coming like it's a picnic, because 'Let's go to Disneyland.'" I can't deal.
It's a claim Trump has made since at least 2018 that has been frequently refuted. Reports have said that, while Obama did separate families, the two administrations' methods are incomparable. For starters, there was no widespread Obama-era policy of separating children from their families. Obama's administration did separate children when there were concerns for their well-being or when there were concerns regarding whether the adults were actually their legal guardians, per CNN. However, unlike the Trump administration policy, family separations were not standard practice.
Under Trump's "zero tolerance" policy, which was implemented in April 2018, all undocumented families who crossed into the United States were separated so the adults could face prosecution. Because there are limits to how long migrant children can be detained, in practice, the policy meant separating children from their families and detaining them separately, sometimes for weeks or months without contact with their families. The practice came to an end that June, when the president signed an executive order following widespread backlash and protests.
Cecilia Muñoz, the former Director of the Domestic Policy Council under Obama, has also pushed back against Trump's claim. She told NPR on April 9,
The Obama administration did not do that, no. We did not separate children from their parents. [Trump's] policy [was] a new decision, a policy decision put in place by [then-U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions].
Fox News host Shepard Smith also fact-checked Trump on April 9, saying Trump was "separating rhetoric from reality when it comes to immigration in America," before glossing over a timeline of family separations, per The Hill.
A number of publications, including The Washington Post and The New York Times, also published fact-checks on the claim.
This all comes a day after sources told NBC News that Trump has been pushing to bring back his policy "for months," but with even broader terms. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) previously referred questions to the White House, which did not respond to Elite Daily's request for comment. CNN reported that Trump wants families separated even if they cross into the United States through legal ports of entry or are asylum-seekers, which got some people riled up. But Trump denied those reports on April 9, saying, "We're not looking to do that, no."
With the heat coming down on him over that report, it looks like Trump's best defense was to point the finger.