Despite reports that President Donald Trump wants to reinstate a policy of separating migrant children from their families at the southern border, Vice President Mike Pence told CNN there were no plans to do so.
“The president made it clear a year ago: We ended family separation, and we’re not considering going back to it,” Pence said on Thursday.
NBC News and CNN reported Monday that Trump had been pushing to bring back the widely scorned policy amid a surge of people seeking to cross the border into the U.S., despite signing an executive order ending it in June 2018. The outlets reported that former Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen clashed with Trump over it, which likely was a factor in her resignation on Sunday.
Trump wanted to take the policy a step further, CNN reported, separating children from parents who were seeking asylum or coming in through ports of entry.
But Trump denied it on Tuesday and brought back old talking points on the subject, blaming former President Barack Obama for it but also saying that it’s a deterrent.
“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,” he told reporters in his office.
“Once you don’t have it, that’s why you see many more people coming. They’re coming because it’s a picnic, because ‘Let’s go to Disneyland,’” he said.
Fact-checkers have emphasized that Trump’s claim is misleading, because neither the Obama nor Bush administration had a policy of always prosecuting the parent and therefore separating them from children.
Pence, in his interview with CNN, sidestepped a question about Trump characterizing Democrats as “TREASONOUS” over border policy.
“I think what you hear the president expressing is the frustration of the American people, that last month alone more than 100,000 people came across our southern border illegally,” Pence said.
Customs and Border Protection data released Tuesday shows that 92,607 people were apprehended at the southwest border in March. About 60% of those are family units and unaccompanied children.
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