Washington, US.- President Donald Trump on Tuesday seized on an error by liberal activists who tweeted photos of young-looking immigrants at the U.S.-Mexico border in steel cages and blamed the current administration for separating immigrant children from their parents.
The photos were taken by The Associated Press in 2014, when President Barack Obama was in office. The photo captions reference children who crossed the border as unaccompanied minors.
Early Tuesday, Trump tweeted: “Democrats mistakenly tweet 2014 pictures from Obama’s term showing children from the Border in steel cages. They thought it was recent pictures in order to make us look bad, but backfires. Dems must agree to Wall and new Border Protection for good of country...Bipartisan Bill!”
The immigration debate has reached a fever pitch in recent months following reports that since October about 700 children crossing the U.S.-Mexico border have been separated from their parents.
The number of separated minors is expected to jump once Trump’s new “zero tolerance” policy is enacted. That policy, embraced by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, would enforce criminal charges against people crossing the border illegally with few or no previous offenses. Under U.S. protocol, if parents are jailed, their children would be separated from them.
“The parents are subject to prosecution while children may not be,” Sessions said earlier this month. “So, if we do our duty and prosecute those cases, then children inevitably for a period of time might be in different conditions.”
Enter a June 2014 online story by The Arizona Republic titled “First peek: Immigrant children flood detention center.”
The story linked to photos taken by AP’s Ross D. Franklin at a center run by the Customs and Border Protection Agency in Nogales, Arizona. One photo shows two unidentified female detainees sleeping in a holding cell. The caption references U.S. efforts to process 47,000 unaccompanied children at the Nogales center and another one in Brownsville, Texas.