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Trump defends treatment of migrants at border following criticism at Democratic debate

Trump defends treatment of migrants at border following criticism at Democratic debate
© UPI Photo

President TrumpDonald TrumpProsecutors focus Trump Organization probe on company's financial officer: report WHO official says it's 'premature' to think pandemic will be over by end of year Romney released from hospital after fall over the weekend MORE on Wednesday pushed back against Democratic presidential candidates decrying the treatment of migrants under his administration, blaming his predecessor for the construction of "cages."

"The cages for kids were built by the Obama Administration in 2014," Trump tweeted, reacting a short time after candidates discussed the treatment of migrant children as part of the second round of presidential debates.

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The president repeated his claim that former President Obama implemented a policy of "child separation" and that he ended it.

The Obama administration did not have a sweeping policy of prosecuting adults in a way that required they be separated from their children.

The Trump administration last year implemented a “zero tolerance” policy to criminally prosecute border crossings, which led to the separations of hundreds of migrant families detained by federal authorities.

The president issued an order ending the practice after massive outcry from Democrats and Republicans. But the American Civil Liberties Union alleged in a court filing Tuesday that the administration has separated more than 900 children from their families despite a judge ordering an end to the separations more than a year ago.

Democratic presidential candidates on Wednesday hammered Trump over his policies and rhetoric toward migrants. Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisHarris pushes for support for cities in coronavirus relief package This week: Senate takes up coronavirus relief after minimum wage setback Brown vows Democrats will 'find a way' to raise minimum wage MORE (D-Calif.) recalled visiting the Homestead facility where young migrants are being held in Florida, while Sen. Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetDemocrats: Minimum wage isn't the only issue facing parliamentarian Democrats plan crackdown on rising drug costs Overnight Health Care: Biden officials announce funding to track virus variants | Senate Dems unveil public option proposal | White House: Teacher vaccinations not required for schools to reopen MORE (D-Colo.) declared "kids belong in classrooms, not cages."

Trump has repeatedly sought to defend his administration's treatment of migrants, shifting blame to his predecessor. He has frequently asserted that the Obama administration built many of the facilities where migrants from Central America are now behind held.

In an interview with The Hill last month, Trump argued that migrant detention facilities are better than they were under Obama. Numerous reports have described worsening conditions and lack of access to basic hygiene in centers along the southern border and elsewhere.