Trump clashes with reporters over false claim about separating children at border

President Trump on Friday repeatedly and falsely defended his administration’s policy of separating families at the border by blaming Democrats.

Democrats “forced that law on our nation,” Trump insisted while speaking to reporters outside the White House. But there’s no law here.

Earlier this year, the Trump administration rolled out new measures to separate children from their parents, whom they’re now prosecuting with criminal charges when the migrant families illegally cross into the U.S.

“I want the laws to be beautiful, humane. Strong,” Trump said Friday, suggesting to reporters to tell “your friends the Democrats to call me.”

RELATED: Where the U.S. detains migrants near the southern border

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Where the U.S. detains migrants near the southern border
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Where the U.S. detains migrants near the southern border

The majority of the following photos were taken in May 2017 at the immigration center in the desert city of Adelanto, California, which is the largest immigration detention center in the state.

The detention center is about 85 miles away from Los Angeles and can hold up to 1,940 people.

After getting arrested by Immigration Customs and Enforcement agents, people can languish in the Adelanto detention center, and other such centers around the US, for years as they await hearings.

The Adelanto facility was last inspected in 2016 by ICE's ERO Custody Management Division, which found that the detention center met the "standard."

Source: Immigration Customs and Enforcement

But multiple detainees have gone on hunger strikes or attempted suicide over the conditions since at least March 2017.

 Burgos Mejia, 28, who fled gang violence in Honduras, told the Los Angeles Times in August 2017 that suicide is "something that has crossed the mind of all of us who are locked up here."

Source:Los Angeles Times

In the summer of 2017, nine asylum seekers from El Salvador went on a hunger strike at the facility, demanding better food and clean water.

Source: Los Angeles Times

They also asked for better clothing, specifically underwear.

In June 2017, the group was beaten and pepper-sprayed when they locked arms and tried to get a guard to hear their demands.

Source:Los Angeles Times

The Adelanto immigration center is owned and operated by Geo Group, which is the second-largest private prison company in the U.S.

The GEO Group owns and operates 141 correctional, detention, and community reentry facilities around the country.

The GEO Group is also a major political donor, giving $288,345 to federal candidates in the 2016 cycle (12% to Democrats, and 88% to Republicans), and $121,000 to federal candidates already in the 2018 midterm cycle (28% to Democrats, and 72% to Republicans).

It also gave the Trump Victory PAC $170,000 in 2016.

There have been multiple other incidents of riots, hunger strikes and more over conditions at other GEO Group immigrant detention centers around the US.

A lawsuit representing about 62,000 detainees at GEO Group's detention center in Aurora, Colorado, was filed in 2014 over forced manual labor, and is in still in the courts.

Source:The Denver Post

The state of Washington is also suing GEO Group over paying detainees less than the minimum wage at a center in Tacoma, Washington, where they have gone on multiple hunger strikes over low pay and poor food.

Source:Tacoma Weekly

ICE pays the GEO Group up to about $112 per day, per detainee at the Adelanto immigration detention center.

Source:Los Angeles Times

Detainees at the Adelanto center are allowed to exercise.

And receive visitors.

But the Trump administration's new policy of prosecuting immigrants who cross the border could split up families and overwhelm detention centers.

The Trump administration has argued that the policy is effective, but has used faulty statistics from El Paso, Texas, about a 64% decrease in border crossings, to back up its claim.

Source:Vox

At the same time, Trump has blamed Democrats, for the policy of prosecuting people who cross the southern US border illegally and causing the children who arrive with them to be separated from their parents — even though it is his administration's policy.

Source: Associated Press

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Reporters repeatedly noted to Trump that his statement about the policy was untrue. Trump, addressing reporters at length after a North Lawn “Fox & Friends” interview, wouldn’t budge from his claim.

“He’s [Jeff Sessions] following laws, very simply, that were given to us and forced upon us by the Democrats,” Trump said.

 “But there’s no law that says families have to separated at the border,” a reporter responded.

 “The Democrats gave us the laws. I want the laws to be beautiful,” Trump repeated.

Currently, there are over 10,000 children being detainedin the United States.

This isn’t the first time Trump has falsely stated that Democrats are to blame for his policy. “Put pressure on the Democrats,” he tweeted in May.

Democrats have condemned the new process, calling it inhumane and cruel.

“This is not a zero-tolerance policy — this is a zero-humanity policy,” said Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., who recently visited detention centers in Texas to see where immigrant children were being held.

The House is set to vote on two immigration measures are next week, with one billed as a compromise between conservative and moderate Republican members.  

“I’m looking at them both,” Trump said on “Fox & Friends” Friday. “I certainly wouldn’t sign the more moderate one.”

The moderate bill includes a prohibition of separating children and parents from each other. It also includes a pathway to legal status for young, undocumented immigrants.

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