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

Trump defends treatment of migrants at border following criticism at Democratic debate
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President TrumpDonald TrumpMyPillow CEO to pull ads from Fox News Haaland, Native American leaders press for Indigenous land protections Simone Biles, Vince Lombardi and the courage to walk away 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's bad polls trigger Democratic worries Why in the world are White House reporters being told to mask up again? Want to improve vaccine rates? Ask for this endorsement MORE (D-Calif.) recalled visiting the Homestead facility where young migrants are being held in Florida, while Sen. Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetLawmakers can't reconcile weakening the SALT cap with progressive goals How Sen. Graham can help fix the labor shortage with commonsense immigration reform For true American prosperity, make the child tax credit permanent 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.