In a discussion of immigration policy, former Vice President Joe Biden said: “We didn’t lock people up in cages, we didn’t separate families.”
Facts first: Both of Biden’s claims are false. While the Obama administration didn’t systematically separate families, it did happen under certain circumstances.
Separations did sometimes occur under Obama, but they were non-routine and much less frequent, according to immigration experts and former Obama officials.
They occurred in exceptional cases. Examples include those where the parent was being criminally prosecuted for carrying drugs across the border or other serious crimes aside from illegal crossing, those where human trafficking was suspected and those where the authorities could not confirm the connection between the child and the adult.
The separations didn’t happen as a result of a blanket policy, however, as was the case during the Trump administration’s controversial “zero tolerance” policy last year.
Similarly, fenced enclosures at processing facilities along the border, the structures that have been labeled as cages, existed under the Obama administration. Some individuals — including children — were held in those cells during processing.