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Fact Check: Construction on a new border wall?

CNN's Jake Tapper looks at President Trump's claim that the US is already building his proposed border wall. Read more at FactCheck.org.

Posted: Jun 10, 2018 1:25 PM
Updated: Jun 10, 2018 1:27 PM

It's hard to defend the indefensible. On Tuesday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions spoke with conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt, explaining why the Trump administration is separating migrant families at the border. "If people don't want to be separated from their children, they should not bring them with them," Sessions said. "We've got to get this message out. You're not given immunity."

The problem for Sessions is that the message is out about this policy, and Americans are not buying it. Attempting to justify splitting up families, Sessions offered several policy explanations about why it was necessary. But his rationale for family separations doesn't hold up. The practice is as inhumane as it sounds.

Under the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" policy, people who cross the southern border illegally will now be criminally prosecuted. Past administrations sometimes prosecuted unauthorized border crossers, but it has never been uniform policy. Because children cannot be held in immigration detention for long periods, the Trump administration has taken to jailing migrant parents and then sending their children into the care of the Department of Health and Human Services. While President Barack Obama also struggled to deal with child migrants at the border, separating children from their parents was not a policy that his administration followed.

Explaining the policy to a skeptical Hewitt, Sessions likened it to how US courts treat children. "Every time somebody, Hugh, gets prosecuted in America for a crime, American citizens, and they go to jail, they're separated from their children," Sessions said. This comparison is a stretch. Children in the United States whose parents get in trouble with the law are typically assigned social workers, case workers and lawyers to monitor their progress through foster care and/or social service agencies.

Lawbreaking US citizens are allowed regular communication with their children.

In contrast, unauthorized migrant parents and children are not always given such privileges or protections. Unlike citizens, immigrants in immigration court do not have the right to a court-appointed lawyer. Moreover, it is difficult for migrant parents and children to obtain legal representation because detention facilities are often in remote locations. And immigrant detention facilities are notoriously lacking in transparency. Sen. Jeff Merkley, an Oregon Democrat, was recently denied access to a Texas detention center to check on how migrant children were being treated.

In their discussion, Sessions told Hewitt, "If you come to the country, you should come through, first, through the port of entry and make a claim of asylum if you have a legitimate asylum claim." The attorney general added that people shouldn't try to get across the border at another location and not expect to be deported. But people who are coming to US ports of entry and attempting to request asylum are being turned away. Texas Monthly reports that some Border Patrol agents are telling asylum seekers that they cannot cross the border because US holding cells are at capacity. How does Sessions expect people with a claim for asylum to exercise that legal right?

More troubling is Sessions' assertion that migrant children who are separated from their parents are "for the most part ... well taken care of." He says so despite admitting he has not visited any of the facilities where migrant children are housed.

Meanwhile, according to The Washington Post, children are being kept in wire-link fence enclosures, like livestock. According to NBC News, hundreds of migrant children taken from their parents are stuck at overcrowded border stations. No wonder everyone from the American Academy of Pediatrics to the UN human rights office opposes this practice.

Sessions and other administration officials have pointed to a deterrence strategy as justifying family separations. Yet there is scant evidence that such a strategy works. The Trump administration says that its new policy reduced border crossings 64% in an El Paso, Texas, sector pilot program; in fact, the crossings actually increased there by 64%, according to an investigation of US Customs and Border Protection data by Vox.

As the head of the Department of Justice, Sessions is the top lawyer of the US government. So it's striking that, in his talk with Hewitt, he did not cite a legal basis for splitting up families. That's because there isn't one. President Donald Trump has tried to blame this policy on a "horrible law" passed by Democrats -- but the website Politifact judged these claims to be false.

To his credit, Hewitt pressed Sessions on the family separations, asking the attorney general if he could imagine his grandchildren being taken from their parents. Sessions responded that the United States "can't be a total guarantor that every parent who comes to this country unlawfully with a child is guaranteed ... that they will be able to have their hand on that child the entire time. That's just not the way it works." That Sessions was unwilling to acknowledge the basic human rights of children speaks volumes. Consider that those who suffer the most from family separations are the youngest, most innocent people involved -- children who likely had no say in coming to the United States.

Sadly, this is life for vulnerable immigrants under Trump, whether they are Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals grantees living under a cloud of anxiety about their future, the families of undocumented workers arrested in mass immigration raids, or potential asylum seekers.

Trump and his attorney general own the cruelty of family separations. It cannot be justified on policy or legal grounds -- and each day it continues is a stain on our nation's legacy.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 941120

Reported Deaths: 15315
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1282511983
Lake633041097
Allen53609758
Hamilton43827447
St. Joseph41906590
Elkhart33545490
Vanderburgh30383448
Tippecanoe26820249
Johnson23609417
Hendricks22250341
Porter21737346
Clark17409229
Madison17366384
Vigo16108281
Monroe14466191
LaPorte14311239
Delaware14070221
Howard13865272
Kosciusko11418135
Hancock10841165
Warrick10674177
Bartholomew10542168
Floyd10430205
Wayne9959226
Grant9130204
Morgan8865160
Boone8389111
Dubois7710123
Dearborn762289
Henry7608130
Noble7413101
Marshall7362128
Cass7176117
Lawrence6957153
Shelby6584111
Jackson656785
Gibson6156107
Harrison603786
Huntington600195
Montgomery5805105
DeKalb574291
Knox5494104
Miami542488
Putnam536768
Clinton533665
Whitley524953
Steuben497268
Wabash483592
Jasper479160
Jefferson470092
Ripley454277
Adams444068
Daviess4169108
Scott405865
White391857
Clay390857
Greene388392
Decatur385296
Wells384983
Fayette374278
Posey359941
Jennings353156
Washington332047
LaGrange321375
Spencer317835
Fountain316555
Randolph312888
Sullivan307449
Owen283863
Starke280064
Fulton277553
Orange275859
Jay254837
Perry251652
Carroll243729
Franklin239338
Rush234130
Vermillion233250
Parke219820
Tipton209655
Pike207639
Blackford168334
Pulaski163551
Crawford146018
Newton144345
Benton142516
Brown135346
Martin128217
Switzerland125810
Warren114616
Union96911
Ohio79711
Unassigned0479

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1365800

Reported Deaths: 21596
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1522221560
Cuyahoga1344852327
Hamilton976051320
Montgomery670271141
Summit562091047
Lucas50900863
Butler47417655
Stark41580976
Lorain31567532
Warren30001331
Mahoning26963639
Clermont25628292
Lake24585417
Delaware22313145
Licking20487241
Fairfield20420221
Greene20309272
Trumbull19866509
Medina19796287
Clark17879328
Richland16314234
Portage16130229
Wood15681208
Allen14115256
Miami13786253
Muskingum12641152
Wayne11946238
Columbiana11708241
Tuscarawas10953269
Marion10725148
Pickaway10465129
Scioto10324127
Erie9747171
Ross9436176
Lawrence8755125
Hancock8458141
Ashtabula8317185
Geauga8173156
Belmont8140187
Jefferson7527172
Huron7423128
Union731851
Washington7183120
Athens697165
Sandusky6848134
Darke6756136
Knox6671122
Seneca6358137
Ashland5948113
Auglaize587188
Shelby5727101
Brown564171
Mercer557890
Defiance5483101
Madison543371
Crawford5425114
Highland541581
Fulton530683
Clinton525580
Logan512182
Preble4994110
Putnam4833106
Guernsey470364
Williams459282
Perry449852
Champaign445964
Ottawa436884
Jackson425362
Pike388843
Morrow383851
Fayette375853
Coshocton374766
Adams360675
Hardin359069
Gallia347356
Holmes3259108
Henry324668
Van Wert314670
Hocking301769
Wyandot280658
Carroll262652
Paulding242243
Meigs213942
Monroe189749
Noble169340
Morgan165829
Harrison157940
Vinton138118
Unassigned05
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