CLAIM: Former Vice President Joe Biden claimed, on immigration: “We didn’t lock people up in cages.”
VERDICT: FALSE. The “cages” were built by the Obama-Biden administration.
Univision moderator Jorge Ramos asked Biden at the third Democrat debate at Texas Southern University in Houston, Texas, why Latinos should trust him after the Obama administration continued deporting “undocumented immigrants.”
Biden claimed that the Obama administration’s policies were more humane than those of President Donald Trump: “We didn’t lock people up in cages,” he said.
In fact, the “cages” were built by the Obama administration to deal with a surge of unaccompanied minors who crossed the border illegally in 2014.
Originally, the Obama administration was “warehousing” children — literally — in overwhelmed Border Patrol facilities. Breitbart News broke the story of the surge, which was partly triggered by Obama’s policy of allowing illegal alien children who entered the country as minors to stay in the country (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA).
The above photo was published by the Associated Press in June 2014, and the photo below is of Obama’s Secretary of Homeland Security, Jeh Johnson, touring a Border Patrol facility with “cages.”
The “cages” are chain-link enclosures in Border Patrol processing facilities that are meant to protect children from adults in custody. They are not permanent accommodations.
In mid-2018, as the Trump administration began enforcing a “zero tolerance” policy that stopped the “catch-and-release” policy of letting illegal aliens go after they were arrested. Detaining adults and children meant that children had to be processed separately; the enclosures prevented adults from harming children.
As Breitbart News reported at the time, children were not housed in “cages.” They were processed and then taken to shelters, where they were given medical care, toiletries, education, recreation, and counseling, and where staff attempted to find relatives or sponsors to whom they could be released.
Democrats began tweeting images of “kids in cages” to condemn the Trump administration. Journalists, too, shared those images.
One problem: they were taken during the Obama administration.
Public outrage at the images led President Trump to end the policy, and require families to be detained together.
Democrats keep repeating the mistake, however: in July, they had to delete a tweet that used an image from the Obama era and cited the “inhumane treatment” of children by the Trump administration.
Republicans argue that not detaining illegal aliens is actually the cruel policy, because it encourages migrants to undertake a dangerous journey, often guided by cartels and smugglers.
As Breitbart News’ Alana Mastrangelo noted recently:
But what’s worse than “cages,” however, are reports of migrant children also being handed over to human traffickers during the Obama administration — while Biden was vice president — according to the New York Times. Between October 2013 and July 2015 alone, nearly 80,000 unaccompanied children from Central American countries were detained by U.S. authorities.
It remains unclear how many of the tens of thousands of children were handed over to human traffickers — including sex traffickers — during that span of nearly two years, as those cases are reportedly not tracked.
“Others were ransomed by the very smugglers to whom their families paid thousands of dollars to sneak them into the United States,” reported the New York Times in 2015, during Obama’s presidency and Biden’s vice presidency. “Some lost limbs during the journey or found themselves sold into sexual slavery.”
Biden told voters in South Carolina last month that he would close all border detention facilities, guaranteeing that the migrant flow would continue.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He earned an A.B. in Social Studies and Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard College, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.