Tapper fact-checks DHS on family separations

CNN's Jake Tapper looks at the Department of Homeland Security's misleading claim on family separation. Read more at FactCheck.org.

Posted: Jun 24, 2018 7:25 AM
Updated: Jun 24, 2018 7:25 AM

The week is ending the way it started -- with lots of confusion about the policy that resulted in separating immigrant children from their parents.

In recent days, we've heard the cries of preschoolers, howling for their moms and dads after being separated at the US-Mexico border. We've seen images of boys on metal benches in chain-link enclosures at US government-run facilities. And we've listened to politicians demand answers, shift blame and fail to agree on how to change the laws that bred this chaos.

It all began with a new Trump administration policy, enacted in mid-April, to refer every person caught crossing the border illegally for federal prosecution, including those who arrive with children. The change reflected a more aggressive stance than previous administrations ever took and meant children would be taken away -- and put in federal shelters or foster care around the country -- as their parents' criminal cases progressed.

Here's how the policy's remarkable consequences continued unfolding this week:

Monday: 'We will not apologize'

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen started the week by defending the administration's highly scrutinized policy and putting the onus on Congress to change the laws that the administration has complained restrict how it detains and processes undocumented immigrants and especially asylum seekers.

"We will not apologize for the job we do or for the job law enforcement does, for doing the job that the American people expect us to do," she said Monday. "Illegal actions have and must have consequences: no more free passes, no more get out-of-jail-free cards."

Nielsen's hastily planned news conference at the White House that same day drew swift criticism, including that she offered only facts and figures in response to a deeply emotional issue.

Also on Monday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions defended the separation policy, saying, "We're doing the right thing. We're taking care of these children." Sessions also dismissed comparisons of federal child-detention facilities to Nazi concentration camps, arguing that Nazis "were keeping the Jews from leaving the country."

The White House, facing mounting outcry and making contradictory statements, entered damage control mode.

Tuesday: Immigrants poised to 'infest our Country'

Trump dug in, saying Tuesday in a series of tweets that the separation policy was vital to keeping Americans safe.

He also falsely blamed Democrats, maintaining he couldn't do anything about his administration's policy shift, and amplified his already-heated immigration rhetoric.

"Democrats are the problem," he wrote Tuesday. "They don't care about crime and want illegal immigrants, no matter how bad they may be, to pour into and infest our Country, like MS-13. They can't win on their terrible policies, so they view them as potential voters!"

That same day, congressional Republicans, keen to secure an end to the separation policy as they worked on separate immigration legislation, got vague marching orders from Trump during a meeting on Capitol Hill.

Wednesday: 'We're signing an executive order'

Trump abruptly reversed his debunked argument that he lacked authority to stop family separations and signed an executive order to keep parents and kids together in detention.

"We're signing an executive order. I consider it to be a very important executive order. It's about keeping families together, while at the same time being sure we have a very powerful, very strong border," Trump said.

The President maintained he wasn't backing down.

"The border is just as tough. But we do want to keep families together," he said.

But the executive order, a Health and Human Services official said, doesn't at all address reuniting families already separated. Existing policies place the burden on parents to find their children in Department of Health and Human Services custody and seek to reunite with them.

Parents have been told to call hotlines to find their children, and the government said it would work to schedule regular phone calls. But the programs are hard to navigate, immigrant advocates told CNN, and parents in immigration officials' custody or jail can't get phone calls.

At an evening rally in Minnesota, Trump defended his executive order, but unlike previous events in front of friendly crowds, he devoted only a small portion of his speech to immigration.

Thursday: Jacket gets in the way

First lady Melania Trump made a surprise trip to Texas to get a firsthand look at the crisis affecting children. But the jacket she wore on the plane upended the official narrative. On the back, it read, "I really don't care. Do U?"

At a briefing in the US border town of McAllen, she thanked doctors, social workers and other experts "for your hard work, your compassion and your kindness."

Meantime, the Justice Department sought to modify a federal court order that limits US officials' ability to detain immigrant children longer than 20 days.

And Donald Trump continued to issue misleading information on the border crisis, blaming political opponents for what he described as the world's weakest immigration laws.

The administration also outwardly maintained that it was continuing its "zero tolerance" border policy. But emails obtained by CNN show that the policy effectively had been curtailed -- the latest sign of confusion and disarray over how to implement the executive order.

Friday: 'No intention of doing anything'

Here we are Friday, with a few hundred children reunited so far -- including a boy whose mother was among the first parents to sue the federal government to get him back. For thousands of others, though, there's no end in sight to the separations.

On Capitol Hill, Republicans were still debating what's being cast as a GOP compromise immigration bill. A vote on that bill was pushed to next week after a conservative measure failed and lawmakers sought changes to the somewhat more moderate measure.

Trump also reminded us, again, that he blames the Democrats. And he may have slammed the door on a legislative fix with a single tweet.

"Republicans should stop wasting their time on immigration until after we elect more Senators and Congressmen/women in November," the President tweeted. "Dems are just playing games, have no intention of doing anything to solves this decades old problem. We can pass great legislation after the Red Wave!"

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 768624

Reported Deaths: 13993
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1055891807
Lake569801031
Allen43032699
St. Joseph37344568
Hamilton37335426
Elkhart29783470
Tippecanoe23503230
Vanderburgh23240405
Porter19580327
Johnson18843392
Hendricks18089323
Madison13575347
Clark13552198
Vigo12869256
LaPorte12578225
Monroe12575178
Delaware11155198
Howard10693237
Kosciusko9792124
Hancock8761150
Bartholomew8274157
Warrick8084157
Floyd8043182
Grant7378181
Wayne7239201
Boone7211105
Morgan6924143
Marshall6345117
Dubois6283118
Cass6096112
Dearborn602178
Noble600890
Henry5958111
Jackson517277
Shelby511598
Lawrence4928127
Gibson463696
Montgomery459292
DeKalb456785
Clinton456055
Harrison454077
Huntington417882
Whitley416745
Steuben411260
Miami406073
Jasper401655
Knox388691
Putnam385762
Wabash370384
Adams353856
Ripley351971
Jefferson343487
White340154
Daviess3089100
Wells304081
Greene295185
Decatur292693
Fayette286564
Posey282635
Scott281058
LaGrange277772
Clay274949
Washington254637
Randolph247783
Jennings239749
Spencer238731
Fountain235850
Starke229959
Owen222959
Sullivan221643
Fulton208945
Jay203032
Carroll197722
Orange191756
Perry189939
Vermillion181144
Rush177627
Tipton173347
Franklin172535
Parke155916
Pike142534
Blackford138032
Pulaski123748
Newton123336
Benton109715
Brown106243
Crawford105816
Martin92515
Warren87915
Switzerland8378
Union73610
Ohio58411
Unassigned0429

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1125420

Reported Deaths: 20490
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1305631493
Cuyahoga1173952263
Hamilton825481261
Montgomery536581062
Summit489381014
Lucas43799834
Butler40064614
Stark33876939
Lorain26072510
Warren24959312
Mahoning22738613
Lake21482396
Clermont20425261
Delaware19169138
Licking16879227
Trumbull16829492
Fairfield16825207
Medina15880276
Greene15565254
Clark14366308
Portage13450218
Wood13358201
Allen12064245
Richland11748213
Miami11047228
Wayne9275228
Columbiana9216236
Muskingum9144137
Pickaway8755123
Tuscarawas8724255
Marion8716140
Erie8146166
Ashtabula7280179
Hancock7050135
Ross7031165
Geauga6975153
Scioto6726108
Belmont6224179
Lawrence5964104
Union591649
Jefferson5729162
Huron5644122
Sandusky5498130
Darke5448131
Seneca5380128
Washington5373111
Athens527260
Auglaize507787
Mercer491785
Shelby484397
Knox4621113
Madison448066
Ashland446198
Defiance439499
Fulton436875
Putnam4358104
Crawford4120111
Brown410462
Preble3956107
Logan392279
Clinton391466
Ottawa376481
Highland366668
Williams357378
Champaign349860
Guernsey331554
Jackson321954
Perry299050
Morrow294943
Fayette289350
Hardin279665
Henry277467
Coshocton273061
Holmes2726102
Van Wert252365
Gallia251150
Adams250958
Pike244837
Wyandot235557
Hocking222963
Carroll201449
Paulding180142
Meigs151540
Monroe137945
Noble137939
Harrison115438
Morgan111724
Vinton87517
Unassigned04
Fort Wayne
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Angola
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Huntington
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Decatur
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Hi: 85° Lo: 73°
Feels Like: 90°
Van Wert
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Cooler and drier air settles in across the region to round out the work week.
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