President Trump on Tuesday denied reports that he’s planning to restart separating families at the border—and blamed the practice on former President Obama. “President Obama separated the children. Those cages... they were built by President Obama’s administration, not by Trump,” Trump said. “... And I’ll tell you something, once you don’t have it, that’s why you see many more people coming... President Obama separated children... I was the one that changed it.” Both presidents prosecuted people for illegally entering the country. The Obama administration separated children from parents, but only under specific circumstances, such as if a parent was carrying drugs. In May 2018, Trump’s Justice Department announced a new “zero tolerance” policy so that every illegal entry case would be prosecuted, meaning parents were transferred into DOJ custody without their children.
Former DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, who was widely criticized over the family separation policy, resigned on Sunday. Her acting replacement, Kevin McAleenan, served as Customs and Border Protection Commissioner under the Obama administration. As commissioner, McAleenan was commended for increasing deportations, and implementing the family separation policy.