Former President Trump on Thursday offered a fresh defense for his administration’s decision to separate thousands of migrant families at the southern border, arguing it served as an effective deterrent.
“When you hear that you’re going to be separated from your family, you don’t come. When you think you’re going to come into the United States with your family, you come. And we did for a period of time family separation and others have, too, by the way,” Trump said in an interview with Univision.
“But, you know, it’s a little bit different with us. But we did family separation,” Trump continued. “A lot of people didn’t come. It stopped people from coming by the hundreds of thousands because when they hear family separation, they say well, we better not go. And they didn’t go.”
Trump repeated his assertion that family separation was a practice first implemented during the Obama administration, though multiple fact-checkers have previously debunked that claim.
The Trump administration in 2018 implemented a “zero tolerance” policy for those who crossed the southern border illegally, meaning that hundreds of migrant children were separated from their parents, who were taken to court for criminal proceedings.
Trump eventually ended the zero-tolerance policy in the face of backlash from human rights groups and lawmakers in both parties.
The Biden administration has worked to reunite families that were separated during the previous administration’s “zero tolerance” policy. Officials have said they have united hundreds of children with their families, though nearly 1,000 children still remain separated from their families.
Trump has repeatedly hammered the Biden administration for its border policies, pointing to large increases in the numbers of migrants crossing the southern border.
Trump has said if reelected he would reimpose an expanded version of a travel ban and seek to instate ideological screenings to determine who would be allowed into the U.S.
In a campaign video published in January, Trump laid out his plan to crack down on the cartels, saying he would order the Pentagon to use “special forces, cyber warfare, and other overt and covert actions to inflict maximum damage on cartel leadership, infrastructure and operations” if needed to fight the cartels, which he also pledged to designate as foreign terrorist groups.
“Donald Trump doesn’t care about ‘securing the border’ – he only cares about himself, which means using immigrants and the border to score political points,” Kevin Munoz, a Biden campaign spokesperson, said in a statement. “The only legacy Donald Trump left was vulnerable families separated and more divisive immigration policies – all the while failing to stem the flow of fentanyl into our country.”