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During their final debate Thursday, Democratic nominee Joe Biden scolded President Donald Trump over his administration’s immigrant family separation policy, but a Department of Homeland Security statement has since refuted the former vice president’s talking point.
Biden rapped Trump over more than 500 children who remain in DHS custody and have not been reunited with parents yet.
But during his Friday show, conservative talker, author and pundit Glenn Beck said he reached out to immigration officials as the department who told him Biden’s assertions have repeatedly been debunked.
“This narrative has been dispelled on numerous occasions. DHS has taken every step to facilitate the reunification of these families where the parents wanted such reunification to occur,” DHS spokesperson Chase Jennings told Beck, as reported by PJ Media.
“The simple fact is, after contact was made with the parents to reunite them with their children, many parents have refused,” Jennings continued. “In the current litigation for example, out of the parents of 485 children whose plaintiff’s counsels have been able to contact, they have yet to identify a single family that wants their child reunited with them in their country.”
“The result is the children remain in the U.S. while their parents remain in the home country. The reunification process is a whole of government approach involving [Customs and Border Protection], [Immigration and Customs Enforcement], and [Health and Human Services].
The reason, suggests Matthew Tragesser, chief communications specialist for the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), is that “the parents of these migrant children willingly separated from their child at the southern border in order for their child to obtain a better life in the United States.”
“A 2019 Los Angeles Times piece further proves this theory where it reveals that ‘migrant parents stranded on [the]border send kids across alone,’” Tragesser continued. “Yet, there remains little to no blame on the parents for their decision making.”
During Thursday’s debate, moderator and NBC News correspondent Kristen Welker noted that before President Trump reversed the policy of “zero tolerance” at the border, “at least 4,000 kids” were “separated from their parents,” before adding the government “can’t locate the parents of more than 500 children.”
“So how will these families ever be reunited?” Welker asked.
Trump initially responded that the Obama administration originally built many of the “cages” currently in use to temporarily house illegal immigrants apprehended at the border, including children.
“Do you have a plan to reunite the kids with their families?” Welker pressed.
“Yes. We’re working on it very… We’re trying very hard. But a lot of these kids come out without the parents. They come over through cartels and through coyotes and through gangs,” the president responded.
Welker then asked Biden to respond.
“These 500-plus kids came with parents. They separated them at the border to make it a disincentive to come to begin with. ‘Be real tough. We’re really strong,’” Biden claimed. “And guess what? They cannot… Coyotes didn’t bring them over. Their parents were with them. They got separated from their parents. And it makes us a laughingstock and violates every notion of who we are as a nation.”
“Kristen, they did it. We changed the policy. They did it. We changed,” Trump insisted.
“We did not separate the…” Biden tried to interject.
“They built the cages. Who built the cages, Joe?” Trump fired back. “Who built the cages, Joe?”
In addressing Biden with the next immigration-related question, Welker noted that the Obama administration “did fail to deliver” on reform measures “which had been a promise during the administration,” while it “also presided over record deportations as well as family detentions ad the before changing course.”
“Because we made a mistake made. It took too long to get it right. Took too long to get it right. I’ll be President of the United States, not Vice President of the United States,” Biden responded, adding that he would send Congress a “pathway to citizenship” for some 11 million illegal immigrants whose status is protected under provisions of the DACA program.
In an April 2019 interview, then-acting DHS Secretary Kevin McAleenan told NBC News anchor Lester Holt, “I think the president has been clear that family separation is not on the table and again this was a zero-tolerance prosecution initiative that was targeted at adults violating the law. They were always intended to be reunited.”
Meanwhile, in September 2019, Biden falsely claimed to Democratic debate moderator Jorge Ramos that the Obama administration did not “lock people up in cages.”
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