US President Donald Trump said during the 3rd and final US presidential debate on Friday, October 23 (Philippine time) that the Barack Obama administration built the “cages” or border facilities at the US-Mexico border, which were used to house migrant children and separated them from their families.
Answering a question about how he would reunite the separated migrant families, Trump shifted the blame to his predecessor and said: “But let me just tell you, they [Obama administration] built cages..... It was him. They built the cages. They did it, we changed the policy.”
This implied that the Trump administration changed the US immigration policy for the better, because Trump said that the previous administration – during which his opponent Joe Biden served as vice president – did “nothing except build the cages.”
This needs context.
While it is true that the Obama administration built the facilities referred to as “cages” by Trump, these were supposed to be temporary. This is different from Trump’s "zero-tolerance" policy to prosecute all adults illegally entering the United States, which led to the separation of hundreds of migrant children from their families.
In a 2019 video uploaded by international nonprofit organization, The Aspen Institute, Obama’s Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson confirmed that while the cages were not created by Trump, they were meant to house people for only up to 72 hours before they are transferred to the care of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
“Under the law, once they’re apprehended by the border patrol, within 72 hours we have to transfer unaccompanied children to HHS. And HHS then puts them into shelter and they find placement for them somewhere in the United States,” Johnson said.
Trump also made similar claims in the past that he “inherited” the separation policy from Obama, and that he changed it to bring people together.
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