President Trump on Twitter Saturday morning suggested congressional Democrats are to blame for his administration's policy of separating children from their parents when the family has crossed the border illegally:
The president's critique of the practice of breaking up migrant families is a complete reversal of his own administration's stance. "If you are smuggling a child then we will prosecute you, and that child will be separated from you as required by law," said Attorney General Jeff Sessions earlier this month. "If you don't like that, then don't smuggle children over our border."
Trump's about-face may have been prompted by the outrage the practice has generated in recent days. Public anger was further fueled Friday and Saturday by new attention to a late April report that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is unable to say what happened to 1,475 of 7,635 migrant children it detained, placed with sponsors, and then checked on last fall. The sponsors are typically parents or other family members and are vetted by HHS before the placement is made, but the system is far from perfect: In one case in 2016, migrant minors were handed over to human traffickers running an egg farm.
The Obama administration, which deported more people than any previous presidency, separated some families after illegal border crossings, but more often it placed them, intact, in detention camps to await their court dates. Since the family separation plan was proposed last year, at least 700 children have been taken from their parents.