Former Attorney General Eric HolderEric Himpton HolderOregon legislature on the brink as Democrats push gerrymandered maps Christie, Pompeo named co-chairs of GOP redistricting group Democrats look to state courts as redistricting battle heats up MORE attacked President TrumpDonald TrumpJan. 6 committee chair says panel will issue a 'good number' of additional subpoenas Overnight Defense & National Security — Presented by AM General — Pentagon officials prepare for grilling Biden nominates head of Africa CDC to lead global AIDS response MORE and members of his administration on Wednesday for suggesting that a policy of separating migrant children from their parents for legal prosecution was an Obama-era policy that Congress must change.
In an address at the Edward M. Kennedy Institute, Holder called Trump's claim "nonsense," referring to a tweet over the weekend in which the president claimed the policy was "horrible" but also blaming Democrats for inaction on immigration policy.
"It's nonsense," Holder said, joking that he couldn't say what he actually thought of the claim. "But it starts with 'b'."
"Among those lists of fabrications, falsehoods, 'alternative facts,' this is pretty high on the list," Holder continued.
"This is a policy determination that this administration has made, to separate children from families, as a way to try to thwart people who are trying to come into this country either illegally or seeking asylum."
The problem arises, Holder said, from the Trump administration's policy of prosecuting all migrants who cross the border illegally, forcing immigrants suspected to lack legal status into the federal prison system, where they are separated from their children.
"[This] puts our government in a very, very bad light," he added. "Our government is separating kids, some I've read as young as 18 months, from their parents. And then you lose track of 1,500 of them all in the name of, I think, a misguided immigration policy."
"So this is, I think, government at its worst and not anything the Democrats or the Obama administration put in place," he finished.
The Trump administration announced a policy earlier this month stating that adults would be prosecuted separately from children upon reaching the border seeking asylum. The plan has been roundly criticized by Democrats.
“If you cross the border unlawfully, then we will prosecute you. It’s that simple,” Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsOvernight Hillicon Valley — Apple issues security update against spyware vulnerability Stanford professors ask DOJ to stop looking for Chinese spies at universities in US Overnight Energy & Environment — Democrats detail clean electricity program MORE said at the time. “If you are smuggling a child, then we will prosecute you. And that child may be separated from you, as required by law.”