President Trump told Congress in an open meeting Wednesday that the problem at the border started long before he got to office. It was an issue during the Bush administration, and remained an issue during his predecessor President Obama's tenure.
Some Democratic lawmakers have admitted that the plight of undocumented immigrant children was kept "very quiet" during the Obama administration. Almost 70,000 unaccompanied minors were apprehended at the border in 2014. Images showed some of the children being kept in cages at detention centers. An immigration lawyer, R. Andrew Free, even said this week that the policy currently being derided as cruel grew out of practices under Obama.
"I remember hearing the constant, violent coughing and sickness of small children, and the worry of their mothers who stood in the sun outside the clinic all day only to be told their kids should 'drink water,'" Free tweeted. "I remember nearly doubling over when I saw the line of strollers."
In 2015, Free met Obama briefly and took the time to warn him that if he didn't oversee improvements, the condition of the detention centers would be a "stain on his legacy."
Thread: How did we get here?— R. Andrew Free (@ImmCivilRights) June 19, 2018
In 2015, I shook President Obama’s hand, thanked him for DACA, and asked him to reverse course & close the for-profit baby jails (also known as “family detention centers”) he opened in Dilley & Karnes City, Texas. What he said shook me to my core 1/ pic.twitter.com/K5vi6S2RPj
"I'll tell you what we can't have," Obama said, according to Free. "It's these parents sending their kids here on a dangerous journey and putting their lives at risk."
That context may suggest why Obama's new message is rubbing some the wrong way. He shared a message on Facebook today which sounded like he was offering Trump a subtle lecture about humanity. How can the government stomach ripping children from their parents, he wrote. Show some compassion, he pleaded.
Trump signed an executive action on the zero tolerance policy Wednesday that will keep undocumented children with their parents when they are detained.
.@POTUS on his executive order on immigration: "It's about keeping families together, while at the same time being sure that we have a very powerful, very strong border." https://t.co/2gxS9qu9DH pic.twitter.com/RpU3a8OmTs— Fox News (@FoxNews) June 20, 2018