Tapper fact-checks DHS on family separations

CNN's Jake Tapper looks at the Department of Homeland Security's misleading claim on family separation. Read more at FactCheck.org.

Posted: Jun 24, 2018 6:11 AM
Updated: Jun 24, 2018 6:25 AM

The week is ending the way it started -- with lots of confusion about the policy that resulted in separating immigrant children from their parents.

In recent days, we've heard the cries of preschoolers, howling for their moms and dads after being separated at the US-Mexico border. We've seen images of boys on metal benches in chain-link enclosures at US government-run facilities. And we've listened to politicians demand answers, shift blame and fail to agree on how to change the laws that bred this chaos.

It all began with a new Trump administration policy, enacted in mid-April, to refer every person caught crossing the border illegally for federal prosecution, including those who arrive with children. The change reflected a more aggressive stance than previous administrations ever took and meant children would be taken away -- and put in federal shelters or foster care around the country -- as their parents' criminal cases progressed.

Here's how the policy's remarkable consequences continued unfolding this week:

Monday: 'We will not apologize'

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen started the week by defending the administration's highly scrutinized policy and putting the onus on Congress to change the laws that the administration has complained restrict how it detains and processes undocumented immigrants and especially asylum seekers.

"We will not apologize for the job we do or for the job law enforcement does, for doing the job that the American people expect us to do," she said Monday. "Illegal actions have and must have consequences: no more free passes, no more get out-of-jail-free cards."

Nielsen's hastily planned news conference at the White House that same day drew swift criticism, including that she offered only facts and figures in response to a deeply emotional issue.

Also on Monday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions defended the separation policy, saying, "We're doing the right thing. We're taking care of these children." Sessions also dismissed comparisons of federal child-detention facilities to Nazi concentration camps, arguing that Nazis "were keeping the Jews from leaving the country."

The White House, facing mounting outcry and making contradictory statements, entered damage control mode.

Tuesday: Immigrants poised to 'infest our Country'

Trump dug in, saying Tuesday in a series of tweets that the separation policy was vital to keeping Americans safe.

He also falsely blamed Democrats, maintaining he couldn't do anything about his administration's policy shift, and amplified his already-heated immigration rhetoric.

"Democrats are the problem," he wrote Tuesday. "They don't care about crime and want illegal immigrants, no matter how bad they may be, to pour into and infest our Country, like MS-13. They can't win on their terrible policies, so they view them as potential voters!"

That same day, congressional Republicans, keen to secure an end to the separation policy as they worked on separate immigration legislation, got vague marching orders from Trump during a meeting on Capitol Hill.

Wednesday: 'We're signing an executive order'

Trump abruptly reversed his debunked argument that he lacked authority to stop family separations and signed an executive order to keep parents and kids together in detention.

"We're signing an executive order. I consider it to be a very important executive order. It's about keeping families together, while at the same time being sure we have a very powerful, very strong border," Trump said.

The President maintained he wasn't backing down.

"The border is just as tough. But we do want to keep families together," he said.

But the executive order, a Health and Human Services official said, doesn't at all address reuniting families already separated. Existing policies place the burden on parents to find their children in Department of Health and Human Services custody and seek to reunite with them.

Parents have been told to call hotlines to find their children, and the government said it would work to schedule regular phone calls. But the programs are hard to navigate, immigrant advocates told CNN, and parents in immigration officials' custody or jail can't get phone calls.

At an evening rally in Minnesota, Trump defended his executive order, but unlike previous events in front of friendly crowds, he devoted only a small portion of his speech to immigration.

Thursday: Jacket gets in the way

First lady Melania Trump made a surprise trip to Texas to get a firsthand look at the crisis affecting children. But the jacket she wore on the plane upended the official narrative. On the back, it read, "I really don't care. Do U?"

At a briefing in the US border town of McAllen, she thanked doctors, social workers and other experts "for your hard work, your compassion and your kindness."

Meantime, the Justice Department sought to modify a federal court order that limits US officials' ability to detain immigrant children longer than 20 days.

And Donald Trump continued to issue misleading information on the border crisis, blaming political opponents for what he described as the world's weakest immigration laws.

The administration also outwardly maintained that it was continuing its "zero tolerance" border policy. But emails obtained by CNN show that the policy effectively had been curtailed -- the latest sign of confusion and disarray over how to implement the executive order.

Friday: 'No intention of doing anything'

Here we are Friday, with a few hundred children reunited so far -- including a boy whose mother was among the first parents to sue the federal government to get him back. For thousands of others, though, there's no end in sight to the separations.

On Capitol Hill, Republicans were still debating what's being cast as a GOP compromise immigration bill. A vote on that bill was pushed to next week after a conservative measure failed and lawmakers sought changes to the somewhat more moderate measure.

Trump also reminded us, again, that he blames the Democrats. And he may have slammed the door on a legislative fix with a single tweet.

"Republicans should stop wasting their time on immigration until after we elect more Senators and Congressmen/women in November," the President tweeted. "Dems are just playing games, have no intention of doing anything to solves this decades old problem. We can pass great legislation after the Red Wave!"

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 556381

Reported Deaths: 7098
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1158471682
Ramsey47939856
Dakota42586422
Anoka38655415
Washington24993274
Stearns21052219
St. Louis16821298
Scott16013117
Wright14818127
Olmsted1276297
Sherburne1064880
Carver984945
Clay783490
Rice7649101
Blue Earth698640
Kandiyohi628181
Crow Wing618186
Chisago550650
Otter Tail543973
Benton532297
Mower451132
Goodhue444172
Douglas442870
Winona438649
Nobles400648
Morrison396059
McLeod395255
Isanti378259
Itasca373653
Beltrami372957
Polk366067
Steele364014
Becker356048
Lyon348648
Carlton329452
Freeborn328129
Pine312321
Nicollet307542
Brown294739
Mille Lacs282150
Le Sueur270822
Todd268830
Cass250426
Meeker237437
Waseca231421
Martin213429
Wabasha19953
Roseau197818
Renville172543
Hubbard172341
Dodge17193
Redwood166335
Houston162614
Cottonwood157021
Fillmore15179
Pennington151019
Chippewa146537
Wadena144621
Faribault144019
Sibley136410
Kanabec131721
Aitkin128736
Watonwan12569
Rock123019
Jackson117410
Yellow Medicine110819
Pipestone109926
Pope10306
Murray10269
Swift100018
Marshall85617
Stevens82210
Lake78419
Clearwater77814
Koochiching77313
Wilkin77012
Lac qui Parle73622
Big Stone5644
Lincoln5592
Grant5498
Norman5229
Mahnomen5088
Unassigned50378
Kittson46822
Red Lake3877
Traverse3605
Lake of the Woods3073
Cook1460

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 358085

Reported Deaths: 5821
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk56023604
Linn20310330
Scott19111234
Black Hawk15560306
Woodbury14906221
Johnson1405881
Dubuque13162202
Dallas1090196
Pottawattamie10763162
Story1031547
Warren555686
Clinton537790
Cerro Gordo522986
Webster508391
Sioux506673
Marshall477274
Muscatine460796
Des Moines441965
Wapello4254120
Buena Vista421940
Jasper407670
Plymouth397479
Lee368555
Marion354575
Jones293155
Henry286337
Bremer279360
Carroll279351
Crawford261840
Boone258833
Benton250355
Washington249550
Dickinson242343
Mahaska224850
Jackson218242
Kossuth213063
Clay211225
Tama206671
Delaware203039
Winneshiek194433
Page190421
Buchanan188831
Cedar184423
Fayette183041
Wright180435
Hardin179942
Hamilton178149
Harrison176473
Clayton167155
Butler162534
Mills158720
Cherokee157138
Floyd155442
Lyon154841
Madison154119
Poweshiek152733
Allamakee149151
Iowa145524
Hancock143734
Winnebago136131
Grundy135332
Cass134654
Calhoun133211
Jefferson131035
Emmet128740
Shelby128637
Sac127319
Louisa127249
Appanoose126647
Mitchell125341
Union124132
Chickasaw122615
Humboldt118326
Guthrie117929
Franklin112821
Palo Alto111022
Howard102822
Montgomery100637
Unassigned10050
Clarke98323
Keokuk94730
Monroe94128
Ida89733
Adair84532
Pocahontas83721
Monona81230
Davis79924
Greene76710
Osceola75516
Lucas74923
Worth7098
Taylor65312
Fremont6139
Decatur5899
Van Buren55518
Ringgold53623
Wayne52123
Audubon4939
Adams3284
Rochester/St. Mary'S
Cloudy
33° wxIcon
Hi: 41° Lo: 33°
Feels Like: 22°
Mason City
Cloudy
32° wxIcon
Hi: 42° Lo: 31°
Feels Like: 20°
Albert Lea
Cloudy
34° wxIcon
Hi: 41° Lo: 31°
Feels Like: 25°
Austin
Cloudy
36° wxIcon
Hi: 41° Lo: 33°
Feels Like: 27°
Charles City
Cloudy
° wxIcon
Hi: 43° Lo: 34°
Feels Like: °
Tracking an arctic front, cooling us down for the workweek
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Latest Video

Image

Sean's Weather 4/19

Image

Mayo Clinic Doctor creates art for patients

Image

Electric car show

Image

Walk a Block

Image

Cleaning up Chester Woods

Image

Little Thistle collecting donations

Image

Rochester United PKG

Image

Grizzlies PKG

Image

Sara's Saturday Night Forecast

Image

April Tool's Day

Community Events