Trump says 'we're doing a fantastic job' at migrant detention centres, where scathing reports have emerged that children lack basic amenities

NBCPresident Donald Trump appears on ‘Meet the Press’ on June 23, 2019.
  • President Donald Trump told Chuck Todd on NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday that “we’re doing a fantastic job under the circumstances,” in response to the government’s handling of detained migrant children.
  • Trump’s comments follow scathing reports of children kept in US Customs and Border Protection facilities without access to basic amenities, such as food, soap, blankets, and toothbrushes.
  • Earlier this month, the White House also told migrant shelters handling children to either reduce or completely cut education, legal services, and recreation for detained youth.
  • When questioned on family separations, Trump falsely said the policy started under the Obama administration.
  • Visit BusinessInsider.com for more stories.

President Donald Trump responded to recent criticism over the government’s handling of detained immigrant children, telling Chuck Todd on NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday that “we’re doing a fantastic job under the circumstances.”

Trump’s comments follow scathing reports of children kept in US Customs and Border Protection facilities without access to basic amenities, such as food, soap, blankets, and toothbrushes. Earlier this month, the Trump administration also told migrant shelters handling children to either reduce or completely cut education, legal services, and recreation for detained youth.


Read more:
Teens taking care of toddlers, children eating uncooked food, and an outbreak of the flu: Lawyers report dire conditions at a Texas Border Patrol station where migrant children are being held

While, under a 1997 consent decree known as the Flores Settlement Agreement, children are supposed to be kept in “safe and sanitary” conditions and be transferred to the custody of US Health and Human Services within three days, some children have been kept in these facilities up to three weeks, according to the Washington Post.

“In my 22 years of doing visits with children in detention, I have never heard of this level of inhumanity,” Holly Cooper, who co-directs University of California, Davis’ Immigration Law Clinic and represents detained youth, told the Associated Press last week.

Trump blamed Democrats

The president brushed off Todd’s questions about why the White House stopped schooling detained children and providing recreation, instead deflecting blame onto congressional Democrats.

“Where is the money? You know what? The Democrats are holding up the humanitarian aid,” Trump said.

Todd suggested that children are being used for political purposes. “Why let the political debate hurt these children?” he asked.

“If the Democrats would change the asylum laws and loopholes, which they refuse to do because they think it’s good politics, everything would be solved immediately,” the president responded. “But they refuse to do it. They refuse to do it.”

When questioned on family separations, Trump falsely said that the policy started under the Obama administration.

“This has been happening long before I got there. What we’ve done is we’ve created, we’ve ended separation,” Trump told Todd. “I was the one that ended it … I inherited separation from President Obama.”

Migrant child mcallen texasGetty Images/Spencer PlattJenquel, who crossed the US-Mexico border with her mother and siblings, speaks with volunteers at the Catholic Charities Humanitarian Respite Center on June 21, 2018 in McAllen, Texas.

Obama did not have a policy to separate migrant children from families – current and former Homeland Security officials have said that separations were rare under the Obama administration, and mostly only occurred if a child’s safety was perceived to be at risk.

The separation of thousands of migrant children from their parents began under Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy in April 2018. While Trump issued an executive order stopping the practice of family separations in June 2018, the Houston Chronicle reported on Saturday that his administration has continued to separate hundreds of migrant children from their families.

It is still unknown how many families the Trump administration ultimately separated, and how many must still be reunited.

Watch a clip of the interview below:

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