Fact Check: Did President Trump “Put Kids in Cages?”

President Donald Trump’s stance against illegal immigration was a pillar of his 2016 presidential campaign, and is likely one of the major reasons he was elected. Trump’s opponents quickly attacked him on this topic, calling him racist and xenophobic, although many of the politicians who were directing those terms at then presidential-hopeful Donald Trump had been open about identical stances in the past.

After Trump was elected, pictured quickly surfaced of a detention center at the border where children were shown in areas of a detention center that were divided by chain link fence. These images quickly made their way to news outlets, which portrayed Trump as a monster who ripped children from the arms of their parents as soon as they illegally crossed into the United States. What was the problem with all of this? It wasn’t true.

Pictures shown by the media originated from an article from azcentral.com. The article was originally written on June 14, 2018 – during then President Barack Obama’s administration. Spotlights from the article indicate that “hundreds of unaccompanied migrant children have been transported to facility in Arizona.”

The descriptions of the treatment toward children in the article is abhorrent, and we would urge you to read the entire article for yourself.

Business Insider has since written a nice follow-up piece on the talking point that this practice originated with Donald Trump, a talking point that is provably false.

Although this practice didn’t start with President Trump, Trump did spark outrage when he began the practice of separating children from their parents within the detention centers.

Former President Barack Obama was very quick to jump on this policy change, since it directed attention away from the original policy of detainment, which is what sparked the original outrage.

“To watch those families broken apart in real time puts to us a very simple question: are we a nation that accepts the cruelty of ripping children from their parents’ arms, or are we a nation that values families, and works to keep them together? Do we look away, or do we choose to see something of ourselves and our children?”

Barack Obama

According to the Associated Press, the Obama administration left some 600,000 detained illegal border-crossing individuals, both child and adults, to be the responsibility of the Trump administration.

Separation of children from their parents on certain grounds existed before Trump’s administration. Typically children would be separated if Border Patrol agents saw signs of child abuse, or had reason to believe children were being trafficked for the purpose of allowing adults who were not their parents entry into the US (at which point the children would be discarded). Trump’s administration expanded on this policy, and then later rescinded the policy after intense backlash.

As for the original claim of Trump “putting kids in cages,” even Snopes has acknowledged that this policy begin with the Obama administration.