On Sunday night's broadcast, CBS News 60 Minutes presented an in-depth review of the Trump administration's family separation policy and the lingering effects on the detained children. The zero tolerance policy came through a Justice Department memo issued by then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
The memo required all federal prosecutors to treat every case of entry into or living in the United States as a criminal act and prosecute every case, instead of using prosecutorial discretion and remanding some cases to civil court. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) under Kirstjen Nielsen also focused its efforts on the southern border and immigrants of South and Central American origin, which drew calls of racism against the Trump administration.
President Donald Trump took exception to the 60 Minutes report for criticizing him and his administration's immigration and child separation policy. He took to Twitter Sunday to cry foul and repeat an often made false claim.
The President posted:
"[60 Minutes] did a phony story about child separation when they know we had the exact same policy as the Obama Administration. In fact a picture of children in jails was used by other Fake Media to show how bad (cruel) we are, but it was in 2014 during O years."
"Obama separated....children from parents, as did Bush etc., because that is the policy and law. I tried to keep them together but the problem is, when you do that, vast numbers of additional people storm the Border. So with Obama seperation (sic) is fine, but with Trump it’s not. Fake 60 Minutes!"
While it is true that the Obama administration did deport a record number of people, under President Barack Obama, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) law enforcement arm of DHS focused on those with criminal histories, not families with young children.
Under Obama, the DOJ and DHS deported more than 2.7 million people between fiscal years 2009 and 2016. And after a previous migrant caravan brought large numbers to the United States in 2014, children who came with their parents did not get separated from them, and if families got deported, they were deported together.
Under the Obama administration, only unaccompanied minors—children who arrived without a parent or guardian—were detained without their families. The Trump administration separated almost 2,000 children from their families in the spring of 2018, with no plans in place to track the children or ever reunite them with their parents.
According to Denise Gilman, director of the Immigration Clinic at the University of Texas Law School:
"There were occasionally instances where you would find a separated family — maybe like one every six months to a year — and that was usually because there had been some actual individualized concern that there was a trafficking situation or that the parent wasn’t actually the parent."
People were quick to point out the difference to the President.
Many responded to his Sunday night tweets with facts he either did not know or lied about.
And many brought up events that occurred at the border over the weekend.
While others noted a distinct lack of support for the President on his Twitter posts.
And some took note of the spelling of "separation."
Watch the 60 Minutes report that Trump disparaged here.