Trump falsely claims that cruel family separation policy is a good deterrent

It isn't.

Donald Trump on Saturday.
Donald Trump on Saturday. CREDIT: MSNBC screenshot.

Months after Donald Trump claimed he was abandoning his own policy of separating immigrant asylum seekers and their children, he is now exploring ways to bring the horrific policy back. Asked Saturday about why he would revert to a hugely unpopular and likely illegal approach, Trump incorrectly claimed that it is an effective deterrent.

“Well, I will say this: if they feel there will be separation, they don’t come, you know. If they feel there’s separation, it’s — it’s a terrible situation,” he told reporters.

“We want to to go through Congress, but the Democrats don’t want to approve anything. They’re obstructionists,” he charged. “If they feel there’s separation, in many cases, they don’t come.”

While Trump is correct that virtually every Democrat in Congress opposes taking young children from their parents and effectively imprisoning them, he is completely wrong about the policy being a deterrent.


Indeed border apprehensions of migrating families actually notably went up during the time the Trump administration’s so-called “zero-tolerance” policy was in full effect. According to a Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Customs and Border Protection data, 2018 numbers were not only much higher than a year earlier, they were the highest since 2012.

Trump also repeated the widely-debunked myth that many of the immigrant kids are not actually related to the adults they arrive with and are just props.

“Also, in many cases, you have really bad people coming in and using children. They’re not their children, they don’t know the children, they haven’t known the children for 20 minutes and they grab children and they use them to come into our country,” he said.

According to Trump’s own Department of Homeland Security, just 46 times in fiscal year 2017 out of 303,916 apprehensions did someone fraudulently claim a child was theirs — 0.0151% of all cases.