Trump mis­places blame for fam­ily splits

Imperial Valley Press - - LOCAL & REGION -

SAN DIEGO (AP) — Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump is wrongly blam­ing Democrats for a law that he says is forc­ing mi­grant chil­dren to be taken from their par­ents at the bor­der. The de­ci­sion to sep­a­rate fam­i­lies was made by the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion.

A look at his com­ment Wed­nes­day dur­ing his meet­ing with lo­cal Cal­i­for­nia of­fi­cials who sup­port the pres­i­dent’s moves on im­mi­gra­tion pol­icy:

TRUMP to Home­land Se­cu­rity Sec­re­tary

Kirst­jen Nielsen: “I know what you’re go­ing through right now with fam­i­lies is very tough but those are the bad laws that the Democrats gave us. We have to break up fam­i­lies. The Democrats gave us that law. It’s a hor­ri­ble thing where you have to break up fam­i­lies. The Democrats gave us that law and they don’t want to do any­thing about it. They’ll leave it like that ‘cause they don’t want to make any changes. And now you’re break­ing up fam­i­lies be­cause of the Democrats. It’s ter­ri­ble.”

THE FACTS: Not so. No law that “the Democrats gave us” man­dates the sep­a­ra­tion of chil­dren from their par­ents at the bor­der.

A 2008 law de­signed to com­bat child traf­fick­ing has been de­scribed by Trump and his ad­min­is­tra­tion as a prin­ci­pal rea­son for “catch-and-re­lease” poli­cies that he’s try­ing to end at the bor­der.

The law says chil­dren trav­el­ing alone from coun­tries other than Mex­ico or Canada must be re­leased in the “least re­stric­tive set­ting” — of­ten to fam­ily or a gov­ern­ment-run shel­ter — while their cases slowly wind through im­mi­gra­tion court.

It was de­signed to ac­com­mo­date an in­flux of chil­dren flee­ing to the U.S. from Cen­tral Amer­ica.

And it had full-throated sup­port from Repub­li­cans and Democrats alike, pass­ing both houses of Congress unan­i­mously. Repub­li­can Ge­orge W. Bush signed it into law as one of his last acts as pres­i­dent.

The law says noth­ing about break­ing up fam­i­lies. At­tor­ney Gen­eral Jeff Ses­sions re­cently an­nounced a “zero tol­er­ance” pol­icy for il­le­gal en­tries, pledg­ing to crim­i­nally pros­e­cute peo­ple with few or no pre­vi­ous of­fenses. If par­ents are jailed, they are sep­a­rated from chil­dren who joined them un­der pro­to­cols de­scribed in the 2008 law.

Ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cials have ac­knowl­edged that about 700 chil­dren have been sep­a­rated from their par­ents since Oc­to­ber. That fig­ure is cer­tain to in­crease once the zero-tol­er­ance pol­icy takes hold; nearly 50,000 Bor­der Pa­trol ar­rests since Oc­to­ber were of peo­ple who came as fam­i­lies. That’s about 1 in 4 ar­rests by the agents.

TRUMP: “Our num­bers are much better than in the past, but they’re not nearly ac­cept­able and not nearly as good as what we could have. We’re down 40 per­cent from those other stan­dards, so that’s re­ally good — mean­ing 40 per­cent cross­ings.”

THE FACTS: That claim of a 40 per­cent drop in il­le­gal cross­ings in a year is based on out­dated num­bers. Yes, Bor­der Pa­trol ar­rests plum­meted to the low­est level since 1971 dur­ing the last bud­get year. But they be­gan a sharp and steady climb after Trump’s first few months in of­fice.

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