President Joe Biden, in his first press conference Thursday, claimed former President Donald Trump left kids to “starve to death” in Mexico, not citing any specific evidence.
After a reporter pressed Biden on whether his policies were encouraging unaccompanied migrant children to undergo a dangerous journey to the United States, he responded:
Well look, the idea that I’m gonna say — which I would never do — if an unaccompanied child ends up at the border we’re just gonna let him starve to death and stay on the other side, no previous administration did that either except Trump. I’m not gonna do it. I’m not gonna do it. That’s why I’ve asked the vice president of the United States yesterday to be the lead person on dealing with focusing on the fundamental reasons why people leave Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador in the first place.
It was not clear what Biden based his claim on.
Numerous news reports describe the Trump administration’s handling of unaccompanied migrant children at the border, and none say he left children to “starve to death” in Mexico. Rather, they discuss the children being taken into facilities in the U.S.
For example, an Associated Press report dated July 17, 2018, said that migrant children were taken into Customs and Border Protection holding centers and given food. It also said some children were then sent to a shelter operated by the Department of Health and Human Services.
An Associated Press fact check dated February 23, 2019, reported that DHS’s inspector general found the previous June that children had access to toilets, food, drinks, clean bedding and hygiene items:
The Homeland Security Department’s inspector general visited five detention facilities for unaccompanied children on the Texas border with Mexico in late June, during the height of the furor over family separations, and found the facilities appeared to comply with detention standards. The government watchdog reported that cleanliness was inconsistent but that the children had access to toilets, food, drinks, clean bedding and hygiene items.
A June 12, 2019, USA Today report stated that children were being housed in the U.S. until their family members or an appropriate sponsor could be found:
The Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), a division of the Department of Health and Human Services, houses children who come alone while their immigration cases are pending until they can be reunited with a family member or an appropriate sponsor for the child.
According to ORR statistics, 40,891 unaccompanied migrant children were referred to them for housing in fiscal year 2019, a 57% increase from last year.
The report also said the DHS under the Trump administration was activating DOD facilities as a temporary emergency influx shelter for the children, which was also done during the Obama administration in 2014.
A June 21, 2019, USA Today report said children at a facility in Clint, Texas, said they were fed “oatmeal, a cookie and a sweetened drink in the morning, instant noodles for lunch and a burrito and cookie for dinner.”
On May 21, 2019, Business Insider reported on a fifth migrant child death in U.S. custody, but none were attributed to starvation.
There are also reports that the Trump administration flew children back to their home countries, versus letting them “starve to death” in Mexico.
A June 15, 2020, El Paso Times article said 76,000 unaccompanied children arrived at the U.S. border in 2019, and in response, the U.S. government spent 10 months adding beds to its $1.3 billion program for vulnerable migrant youth.
Breitbart News reached out to DHS to confirm Biden’s assertion but did not receive a response.