Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX) claimed in an interview Saturday that the Obama administration tried to cover up the number of unaccompanied minors crossing the United States’ southern border.
“It was kept very quiet under the Obama Administration. There were large numbers of people coming in. The Obama administration was trying to keep this quiet,” the Texas Democrat told CNN’s Fredricka Whitfield on Saturday.
According to data from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency, nearly 70,000 unaccompanied minors crossed the southern border in fiscal year (FY) 2014—the period between October 1, 2013, to September 30, 2014.
Cuellar’s comments come after the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) revealed Friday that nearly 2,000 children had been separated from their guardians at the U.S. border in the past six weeks. The agency revealed the number of children being separated as the Trump administration began its “zero tolerance” policy in prosecuting illegal aliens.
“We still see the numbers,” Cuellar said. “Not all of them are being separated. Some of them are coming alone.”
DHS officials said 1,995 children had been separated from adults while trying to enter the U.S. along the border between April 19 and May 31. Children who are separated from the adults accompanying them across the border are often sent to shelters that provide food, medical care, housing, counseling, and other services to the migrant children. The shelters are administered by the Department of Health and Human Services.
Cuellar suggested that some adults who are not legal guardians of the children they carry over the border take advantage of the separation policy.
“Keep in mind that under the law, you can separate a child if that person, the adult, is not the real parent or the custodian because sometimes we see situations where they’ll bring a child because they know of the policy that we have over here with children,” Cuellar said.