Fact Check: Ocasio-Cortez Says Democrats Must Rally Behind Biden Because ‘We Have Had Kids in Cages’

U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y. speaks during a news conference, Friday, May 1,
Frank Franklin II/AP Photo

CLAIM: Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) said during an April appearance on The View that Democrats must rally behind Joe Biden (D), the Democrat Party’s presumptive nominee, because it is an issue of “life and death,” stating, “We have had kids in cages.”

VERDICT: The “cages” Democrats frequently refer to — chain-link enclosures in certain border facilities — were set up during the Obama-Biden administration, virtually diminishing one of the main reasons Ocasio-Cortez believes it is important for Democrats to support Biden.

Ocasio-Cortez appealed to the false left-wing talking point during an April 15 appearance on the The View in response to cohost Whoopi Goldberg, who asked the lawmaker, “Do you think it’s time to have a conversation with Joe?”

“Yeah, absolutely. I think, you know, I think right now just the stakes are too high when it comes to another four years of Trump,” Ocasio-Cortez said, stating that her community “especially” has been impacted.

“And it’s, you know, for a lot of communities, this is an issue of life and death. We have had kids in cages,” she claimed, also criticizing the Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

“I think it’s really important that we rally behind our Democratic nominee in November,” she added:

Despite Ocasio-Cortez’s insinuation, the “cages” she and her Democrat allies consistently refer to were constructed during the Obama-Biden administration — not President Trump’s. Even Jeh Johnson, secretary of Homeland Security during the Obama-Biden administration, admitted that existing structures were not invented at the start of Trump’s term.

“Chain link barriers, partitions, fences, cages, whatever you want to call them, were not invented on January 20, 2017, OK?” Johnson said during an appearance at the Aspen Ideas Festival last year, responding to the viral 2014 photo depicting the controversial holding facilities:

Johnson continued:

But during that 72-hour period, when you have something that is a multiple — like four times — of what you’re accustomed to in the existing infrastructure, you’ve got to find places quickly to put kids. You can’t just dump seven-year-old kids on the streets of McAllen or El Paso. And so these facilities were erected.


Biden has also denied the Obama administration’s role in constructing the “cages,” telling Univision’s Jorge Ramos in September, “We didn’t lock people up in cages.”

As Breitbart News reported:

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).

Even PolitiFact deemed it “inaccurate” for Biden to claim that Obama’s administration did not put people in “cages,” and left-wing Snopes rated the claim “The Obama administration, not the Trump administration, built the cages that hold many immigrant children at the U.S.-Mexico border” as “true.”

Ocasio-Cortez has a history of making controversial statements regarding migrant detention centers, setting off a political firestorm last summer after accusing the Trump administration of running “concentration camps.”

“That is exactly what they are. They are concentration camps,” Ocasio-Cortez said of migrant detention centers during an Instagram Live last June.

“The fact that concentrations camps are now an institutionalized practice in the Home of the Free is extraordinarily disturbing, and we need to do something about it,” she added.


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