Trump supporter: Clash at border 'great evidence' for border wall

Our panel weighs in.

Posted: Nov 27, 2018 5:31 PM
Updated: Nov 27, 2018 5:34 PM

Pushing back against an explosive "60 Minutes" report about his immigration policies, President Donald Trump revived false claims that downplay his controversial practice of separating immigrant families at the southern border.

The episode of "60 Minutes" highlighted the saga of more than 2,600 children who were separated from their parents after illegally entering the US this year. The report revealed that the policy began earlier than acknowledged and detailed an internal probe at the Department of Homeland Security that found major problems with the plan's implementation, including that computer systems erased data meant to link children to their parents, complicating efforts to reunite families later on.

The centerpiece of Trump's pushback, which he tweeted Sunday night after the show, is that he "had the exact same policy as the Obama Administration," regarding family separation. He repeated this on Monday, telling reporters on the South Lawn of the White House, "Obama had a separation policy. We all had the same policy ... but people don't like to talk about that."

Trump also suggested former President George W. Bush followed similar practices.

Simply put, this isn't true at all. Trump and former President Barack Obama did not have "the exact same policy." In some ways, they had opposite policies. The family separation crisis was triggered last spring when Trump tweaked the status quo he inherited from Obama and ramped up strict enforcement of federal immigration laws that were already on the books.

"It certainly wasn't the exact same policy," said Jessica Bolter, a researcher with the nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute who has published 200 pages of reports on Trump's immigration policies.

Under past administrations, some border-crossers were occasionally prosecuted, and were thus separated from their families. Children were separated from parents when authorities had concerns for their well-being or could not confirm that the adult was in fact their legal guardian. Prosecution was more common in cases with more severe crimes, like drug-running.

The Trump administration told a federal court that more than 2,600 children were separated from their parents during the crisis this summer. Comparable statistics from previous administrations aren't available because the blanket practice was not in place and separations were more sporadic, according to immigration experts.

"There were some instances of parents being separated from their children" in the past, said David Bier, an immigration policy analyst at the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank. "But no administration has institutionalized the practice of family separation on such a scale, as intentionally and as broadly as the Trump administration attempted over the summer."

The main difference between Trump and Obama, as both experts noted, centers on how they handled immigrants caught near the US-Mexico border. Under Obama, the Justice Department was given broad discretion on who should face criminal charges, and federal prosecutors rarely went after families.

But in April, then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the Justice Department would prosecute 100% of illegal border-crossers in a policy known as "zero-tolerance." Adults went to jails and awaited criminal proceedings. Children were sent to detention centers run by the Department of Health and Human Services, and some were eventually placed in foster care.

This specific change "led to the inevitable separation of parents and children," Bolter said.

The internal DHS report mentioned in the "60 Minutes" segment concluded that the agency struggled to accurately maintain complete and reliable data on children that got separated.

"This wasn't a common practice in the past, so records were not well-kept," Bier said. "That's the best evidence that we have that this practice was not something in regular occurrence."

In a carefully crafted statement attacking "60 Minutes," DHS spokeswoman Katie Waldman didn't go as far as Trump did in his tweets. She accurately noted that past administrations separated some families, but never claimed that Trump and Obama followed identical policies.

"Most significantly, 60 Minutes continued to ignore the reality that at least the last two Administrations had held children separately from illegal alien adults in cases where it was necessary for the welfare of the child or to prosecute a federal crime," Waldman said.

The difference is in the syntax. Waldman is stating the fact that families were separated under Obama and Bush. That's true. Some families were torn apart. But there was no blanket policy of separation, and the number was significantly lower, according to experts Bolton and Bier.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1490496

Reported Deaths: 20500
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion2039162521
Lake1001941500
Allen923541011
Hamilton72207547
St. Joseph64053755
Elkhart48903625
Vanderburgh47506523
Tippecanoe43182336
Johnson37906521
Hendricks35984459
Porter34277466
Madison28722537
Clark25552325
Vigo25251344
LaPorte23269307
Monroe22751244
Howard21818377
Delaware21391366
Hancock18487220
Bartholomew17860213
Kosciusko17769201
Warrick16642213
Wayne16062300
Floyd15640257
Grant15143296
Morgan14245231
Boone13388136
Noble11656140
Dearborn11560112
Henry11546201
Shelby11483150
Marshall11258167
Dubois11123152
Jackson10425104
Cass10121142
DeKalb10101129
Lawrence10082220
Huntington10016139
Gibson9415125
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Knox8942124
Harrison8874112
Whitley861871
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Wabash7726139
Ripley7118112
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Daviess6455127
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Switzerland194214
Martin186722
Warren174821
Union165519
Ohio122616
Unassigned0739

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 2439205

Reported Deaths: 31245
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin2637212065
Cuyahoga2582743018
Hamilton1696091714
Montgomery1126771604
Summit1074271391
Lucas909371160
Butler80397942
Stark754911400
Lorain63313792
Warren51040475
Mahoning50162915
Lake47051605
Clermont44631429
Delaware39611212
Trumbull38910755
Medina37850419
Licking37593408
Fairfield34482334
Greene32823422
Portage31698360
Clark30769445
Richland28751423
Wood28217297
Allen24942395
Miami23274395
Muskingum22683245
Columbiana22370403
Wayne21565356
Tuscarawas19096427
Erie18282222
Ashtabula18102342
Marion17861232
Scioto17031207
Ross16556252
Pickaway15812178
Hancock15561228
Geauga15320223
Lawrence14172186
Union1359984
Huron13584182
Belmont13554247
Jefferson13090258
Sandusky12933199
Athens12126106
Knox11721198
Seneca11631200
Darke10950198
Ashland10916178
Washington10729168
Auglaize10364142
Crawford10062175
Shelby9961157
Brown9610140
Fulton9453150
Guernsey9304117
Highland9215148
Defiance9209135
Logan9114142
Clinton8950127
Mercer8816111
Madison8730106
Preble8145162
Williams8014135
Putnam7863135
Ottawa7752121
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Jackson7510117
Perry725998
Coshocton7137136
Morrow706382
Fayette678287
Pike632586
Hardin6311128
Gallia605891
Adams5913124
Van Wert5877121
Henry577093
Hocking5634104
Carroll4877100
Wyandot487590
Holmes4787161
Paulding409064
Meigs380473
Monroe303368
Noble285051
Harrison284461
Morgan280348
Vinton245145
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