As shake-ups at the Department of Homeland Security have recast a harsh spotlight on President Donald Trump’s policy of separating children from their families at the southern border, the president returned to old talking points Tuesday both blaming the Obama administration for the policy and then praising it as necessary.
“President Obama separated the children,” he told members of the press in his office, repeating the accusation several times.
“Those cages that were shown, I think they were very inappropriate,” he continued. “They were built by President Obama’s administration, not by Trump. 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.”
In reality, as fact-checkers have emphasized every time Trump points the finger at Obama over the controversy, administrations prior to Trump’s separated migrant children from their families only when it was determined the child’s safety was in danger, usually because they were with a parent with a felony conviction.
The blanket policy of separating all migrant children from their parents when they crossed the border is the product of Trump and former Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen, whom Trump asked to resign last weekend. In fact, sources familiar with the shake-up told NBC News that Nielsen’s departure likely had to do with her resisting Trump’s desire to reinstate a version of the mass child separation policy, which first went into full effect last spring but was called off in June.
After laying blame on Obama for the controversy on Tuesday, Trump’s tone suddenly shifted and he began praising the policy as the most effective method of securing the borders.
“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 claimed before instantly shifting his tone again. “President Obama separated children. They had child separation. I was the one that changed it.”