Trump: 'You have to take the children away'

President Trump said on Tuesday that his administration has no choice but to separate children from parents who cross the U.S. border illegally — before essentially admitting it does.

“When you are prosecute the parents for coming in illegally — which should happen — you have to take the children away,” Trump said in a speech to small business owners in Washington, D.C. “Now you don’t have to prosecute them, but then we’re not prosecuting them for coming in illegally.”

The president is facing bipartisan criticism for his administration’s “zero-tolerance” policy that has resulted in more than 2,000 children being separated from their families since April, according to the Department of Homeland Security. Many of the children separated from their families have been held in detention centers. In one such facility, hundreds of children were seen in a series of cages created by metal fencing.

Trump falsely insisted that there are “only two options” for dealing with immigrants that come to the country illegally: “Totally open borders or criminal prosecution.” But the Bush and Obama administrations chose a third: to deal with immigrants crossing the border with children largely as civil cases, rather than criminal. (Under Obama, the Associated Press notes, parents were removed from their children if they were arrested on other charges or had an outstanding warrant. But the number of cases was “minuscule” compared to those under Trump.)

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'Tent city' for immigrant children separated from parents in Texas
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'Tent city' for immigrant children separated from parents in Texas
Raymondville, UNITED STATES: A futuristic USD 65 million tent city designed to hold about 2,000 illegal immigrants is pictured 10 April 2006 in Raymondville, Texas. The newly-constructed barbed-wire enclosed camp in the Rio Grande Valley will hold illegal immigrants for weeks to years until they can be returned to their home countires by US officials. AFP Photo/Paul J. Richards (Photo credit should read PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)
Immigrant children, many of whom have been separated from their parents under a new "zero tolerance" policy by the Trump administration, are being housed in tents next to the Mexican border in Tornillo, Texas, U.S. June 18, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Immigrant children, many of whom have been separated from their parents under a new "zero tolerance" policy by the Trump administration, are shown walking in single file between tents in their compound next to the Mexican border in Tornillo, Texas, U.S. June 18, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Immigrant children, many of whom have been separated from their parents under a new "zero tolerance" policy by the Trump administration, are being housed in tents next to the Mexican border in Tornillo, Texas, U.S. June 18, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Immigrant children, many of whom have been separated from their parents under a new "zero tolerance" policy by the Trump administration, are shown walking in single file between tents in their compound next to the Mexican border in Tornillo, Texas, U.S. June 18, 2018. Picture taken June 18, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake
The inside of a dormitory at the Tornillo facility, a shelter for children of detained migrants, is seen in this photo provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, in Tornillo, Texas, U.S., June 14, 2018. ACF/HHS/Handout via REUTERS Picture taken June 14, 2018. ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
Immigrant children, many of whom have been separated from their parents under a new "zero tolerance" policy by the Trump administration, walk in single file between tents in their compound next to the Mexican border in Tornillo, Texas, U.S. June 18, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Immigrant children, many of whom have been separated from their parents under a new "zero tolerance" policy by the Trump administration, are shown walking in single file between tents in their compound next to the Mexican border in Tornillo, Texas, U.S. June 18, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake
The Tornillo facility, a shelter for children of detained migrants, is seen in this photo provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, in Tornillo, Texas, U.S., June 14, 2018. ACF/HHS/Handout via REUTERS Picture taken June 14, 2018. ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
Immigrant children, many of whom have been separated from their parents under a new "zero tolerance" policy by the Trump administration, are being housed in tents by the Department of Homeland Security next to the Mexican border in Tornillo, Texas, U.S. June 18, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Immigrant children, many of whom have been separated from their parents under a new "zero tolerance" policy by the Trump administration, are shown walking in single file between tents in their compound next to the Mexican border in Tornillo, Texas, U.S. June 18, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake
The Tornillo facility, a shelter for children of detained migrants, is seen in this photo provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, in Tornillo, Texas, U.S., June 14, 2018. ACF/HHS/Handout via REUTERS Picture taken June 14, 2018. ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
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“We want to end the border crisis by finally giving us the legal authorities and the resources to detain and remove illegal immigrant families altogether,” Trump said Tuesday, “and bring them back to their country.”

The president said he is also going to seek authorization to not give U.S. aid to countries that “abuse us by sending their people up.”

“Why the hell should we?” Trump said to applause. “Why should we?”

Trump also falsely blamed Democrats for creating “crippling loopholes” that have resulted laws that force family separations at the border.

There is no U.S. law requiring that the children of immigrants entering the country illegally to be separated from their parents. The administration, unlike the previous two, is treating the adults as criminals and jailing them, which requires them to be separated from the children.

The president also complained that the crisis is causing “unbelievably great taxpayer expenses.”

“Nobody knows how much we are paying for this monstrosity that’s been created over the years,” he said. “Legislation that nobody has any idea what they are doing. They don’t even know what it means.”

Earlier Tuesday, the president ramped up his attacks on illegal immigrants who “infest” America in a pair of tweets that, again, blamed Democrats.

“Democrats are the problem,” Trump tweeted Tuesday morning. “They don’t care about crime and want illegal immigrants, no matter how bad they may be, to pour into and infest our Country, like MS-13. They can’t win on their terrible policies, so they view them as potential voters!”

“We must always arrest people coming into our Country illegally,” he added.

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