Trump defends family separations at border

Trump defends family separations at border
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President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump pushes back on recent polling data, says internal numbers are 'strongest we've had so far' Illinois state lawmaker apologizes for photos depicting mock assassination of Trump Scaramucci assembling team of former Cabinet members to speak out against Trump MORE on Sunday defended his administration's controversial "zero tolerance" policy, which resulted in the separation of thousands of children from their parents at the southern U.S. border earlier this year.

"What about the forced separation of children from their— migrant children [from their families]?" correspondent Lesley Stahl asked Trump on CBS's "60 Minutes."

"Well, that was ... the same as the Obama law," Trump said. "You know, Obama had the same thing."

Trump and his allies have often pointed to former President Obama's immigration policy when pressed on family separations, claiming the same happened under Trump's predecessor. PolitiFact has rated this "false," with experts saying families were separated relatively rarely under Obama while thousands of children were separated from their parents under Trump. 

"It was on the books, but he didn't enforce it," Stahl told Trump. "You enforced it."

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"No, but then everybody decided and the courts don't want separation," Trump said. "And frankly, when you don't do ... when you allow the parents to stay together, OK, when you allow that, then what happens is people are going to pour into our country."

Trump signed an executive order ending the family separation policy after facing enormous political blowback, with lawmakers and advocates calling the policy "cruel." Images circulated of detained children in dangerous conditions, including being kept in cages.

Trump's remarks come as the White House reportedly mulls a new policy that would result in families being divided at the border.

"Are you going to go back to that?" Stahl asked. 

Trump declined to say yes or no, replying, "Well, we're looking at a lot of things. Really what we want to do is change the immigration laws." 

Stahl continued to press him, asking multiple times if the White House was going to reinstate the policy, before moving on.

"You can't say yes or no," Trump said. "What I can say is this: There are consequences from coming into a country, namely our country, illegally."