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A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

Video: False Illegal Immigration Claims

This fact-checking video by CNN’s Jake Tapper explains two false claims President Donald Trump made about illegal immigration.

When asked about his administration’s zero-tolerance border policy that resulted in thousands of migrant children being separated from their parents last year, Trump claimed that “President Obama separated the children. … I’m the one that stopped it.”

The suggestion that there was a similar policy under Obama is false. Immigration experts told us that previous administrations separated families in rare circumstances such as suspicion of trafficking, other fraud, or when family detention facilities were not available. They did not implement a blanket policy referring all adults who illegally entered the U.S. for criminal prosecution, as the Trump administration did. The Trump administration’s zero-tolerance policy caused children to be separated from their parents, who entered the federal court system and were placed in detention centers for adults only.

After a public backlash to the family separations, Trump signed an executive order directing the Department of Homeland Security secretary to keep families in custody together “during the pendency of any criminal improper entry or immigration proceedings involving their members” at least “to the extent permitted by law and subject to the availability of appropriations.”

So, what Trump “stopped” were separations caused by his administration’s policies, not Obama’s.

Earlier this month, Trump also falsely claimed that for the “first time” in “decades” Mexico “has been starting to apprehend a lot of people at their southern border coming in” from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador.

Mexico apprehended 110,000 migrants from those three countries in fiscal year 2018, and over the previous four fiscal years the total was more than 500,000. In fact, immigration experts told us the number of apprehensions and deportations from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador has actually slightly decreased for December through February, compared with the past two years.

For a complete analysis of the president’s claims, read our articles “More Family Separation Spin” and “Trump Wrong on Mexico’s Migrant Apprehensions.”

Visit FactCheck.org to watch all of our fact-checking videos done in collaboration with CNN’s “State of  the Union.”