From Trump to Ann Coulter: Fact-Checking the Most Outrageous Claims About the Migrant Children Crisis

Nearly 2,000 children were separated from their families due to the Trump Administration's "zero-tolerance" policy of separating families at the border

As the outcry over Trump’s policy of separating children from their parents at the border intensifies, many Trump supporters are going on the defense of the president’s policy.

However, many of their claims are divorced from reality.

Nearly 2,000 children were separated from their families during a six-week period in April and May as the Trump Administration adopted a “zero-tolerance” policy of separating families at the border, TIME reported on Saturday. Charged adults are sent directly to federal court while their children are sent to the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement.

From Trump placing blame on the Obama Administration to Fox News’ Laura Ingraham declaring the children forcibly displaced are getting to “enjoy summer camp,” and Ann Coulter calling them “child actors,” we fact-checked the Trumpian allegations as some continue to downplay the heartbreaking photos of children being ripped away from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border.

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Rob Latour/Variety/REX/Shutterstock; Chip Somodevilla/Getty; Michael Brochstein/SOPA Images/REX/Shutterstock

President Trump

The president and Trump Administration officials, most notably Attorney General Jeff Sessions, claimed U.S. laws are forcing them to separate families that are caught trying to cross the border.

However, no law or court ruling mandates family separations.

In May, Trump blamed the Democrats in a tweet that urged his followers to “put pressure on the Democrats to end the horrible law that separates children from there parents once they cross the Border into the U.S.”

In 2014, the Obama Administration attempted to respond to a surge in illegal border crossings when it placed hundreds of families in immigration detention centers where children and their parents could be held together. However, federal courts ruled that the administration could not hold families, specifically children, without justifying the decision to detain them.

The courts’ response led to the release of the families and did not split the children from their parents, referring them to civil deportation proceedings rather than separating them. The Trump administration had followed that exception until Sessions announced the zero-tolerance policy.

On Monday, Trump once again said that the policy is “the Democrats’ fault” because they will not work with Republicans to revise immigration laws. “If the Democrats would sit down instead of obstructing, we could have something done very quickly — good of the children, good for the country, good for the world,” he said during a White House event. “We have the worst immigration laws in the entire world. Nobody has such sad, such bad … and actually in many cases, such horrible and tough. You see about child separation, you see what’s going on there.”

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders Holds Press Briefing
Former White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders in 2017. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, White House press secretary, speaks during a White House press briefing in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, Dec. 19, 2017. Sanders said President Donald Trump could benefit from some of the business provisions in the tax bill that could be headed for his signature this week. Photographer: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Sarah Huckabee Sanders

The White House press secretary reiterated Trump’s claim about the law forcing him to separate families.

“It’s the law, and that’s what the law states,” Sanders told reporters during a June 14 briefing. “The president has actually called on Democrats in Congress to fix those loopholes. The Democrats have failed to come to the table, failed to help this president close these loopholes and fix this problem.”

Her father Mike Huckabee echoed similar remarks, telling Fox News on June 16, “I wish things were different on the border. I wish things were different for those children — and they could be. If you had some Democrats with the integrity to work with the president and get it resolved.”

Many try to condemn Democrats for passing a law that is tearing families apart but no such law exists.

Kirstjen Nielsen

On June 17, the Department of Homeland Security secretary went so far as denying the policy’s existence.

“This misreporting by Members, press & advocacy groups must stop. It is irresponsible and unproductive. As I have said many times before, if you are seeking asylum for your family, there is no reason to break the law and illegally cross between ports of entry,” Nielsen tweeted.

“We do not have a policy of separating families at the border. Period,” she said in a follow-up tweet.

Sessions instituted the “zero-tolerance” policy of separating families at the border in May. “If you are smuggling a child then we will prosecute you, and that child will be separated from you as required by law,” Sessions said at a law enforcement event in Scottsdale, Arizona. “If you don’t like that, then don’t smuggle children over our border.”

Laura Ingraham

On June 18, the Fox News personality likened the cages children are detained within to “summer camps.”

“Consistent with American law, when a party is arrested, your children are either sent to relatives or they become wards of the state. So since more illegal immigrants are rushing the border, more kids are being separated from their parents and temporarily housed in what are essentially summer camps,” she said during an interview with Sessions.

Ingraham’s comments were widely criticized and soon after, she responded to the backlash.

“Apparently there are a lot of people very upset because we referred to some of the detention facilities tonight as essentially like summer camps. The San Diego Union Tribune today described the facilities as essentially like what you would expect at a boarding school,” she said. “So I will stick to there are some of them like boarding schools.”

Ann Coulter

Also on June 18, Coulter warned Trump not to “fall for” the images and footage of children being separated from their families.

“These child actors weeping and crying on all the other networks 24/7 right now? Do not fall for it, Mr. President. I get very nervous about the president getting his news from TV,” she said during an appearance on The Next Revolution with Steve Hilton.

Coulter also sourced a New Yorker article during the interview, saying, “These kids are being coached, they’re given scripts to read by liberals, according to The New Yorker. Don’t fall for the actor children.”

However, no such article has been published by the New Yorker.

Immigration advocates fought against claims of “child actors” saying the Trump Administration is using the threat of separating families to halt immigration to the United States, according to the New York Times.

Rush Limbaugh

The right-wing radio host claimed the media was using “fake photos of children crying.”

“I wonder if when we have a story like this where the media is using fake photos of children crying,” Limbaugh said on his program Tuesday.

“It’s not fake that they’re crying. It’s [that] the children may not even be who they’re being said to be and the children may not be separated,” he continued. “They may not be at the border. But I wonder how much of this that the media’s doing is to play off and to corral people who are already wimps and linguini-spined when it comes to kids.”

On Monday, Limbaugh also called the controversy “an entirely manufactured crisis.”

“This children and families being separated at the border? It is an entirely manufactured crisis. It’s entirely manufactured. This has been going on for years. It happened during the Obama administration. Nobody said a word about it, primarily the media,” he said. “Some might say, ‘Well, that doesn’t excuse it continually happening.’ You gotta keep it all in perspective, and wait until you understand why. This is all about asylum seekers, folks. It’s all about people attempting to invade our country, not emigrate here.”

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John Moore/Getty

A photo of a 2-year-old girl screaming while a U.S. border agent pats down her mother went viral on June 12 and has since become the portrait of the outcry against the “zero tolerance” border policy.

John Moore, who took the viral photo, explained to the Washington Post that he found the 2-year-old and her mother beside the Rio Grande where the pair encountered Border Patrol. “The mother stoically had her hands against the vehicle, and the girl was crying. Neither was saying words. Nothing could be said with her. She needed to be with her mother,” Moore said of the moment he photographed.

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