What Immigration Policy Looked Like Under Obama

During Thursday's Democratic debate, Joe Biden was asked to answer for Obama-era immigration policies. His answer wasn't entirely true. Here’s a look at what conditions looked like when both candidates were in office.

The term "cages" has continuously been used by Democrats in attacks against Trump

Unlike the Trump administration, the Obama administration did not have a policy of separating families at the U.S-Mexico border. Unlike President Trump, whose policy to prosecute all adults crossing the border illegally led to thousands of families being separated. But during Obama’s presidency, detained children were held in questionable conditions. Obama also deported a record 3.1 million people from 2009 to 2016 as reported by Homeland Security Dept. The Obama administration prioritized convicted criminals and newly arrived immigrants for deportation.

Joe Biden claimed that a key difference between the administrations of Barack Obama and Donald Trump is that Obama didn’t "lock people up in cages." During the Sept. 12 Democratic presidential debate in Houston, Univision anchor and debate co-moderator asked Biden why Latinos should trust him given the millions of deportations under Obama’s presidency, when Biden served as vice president. Univision's Jorge Ramos drilled former Vice President Joe Biden for an answer on deportations and his immigration record while serving in the Obama administration at the third Democratic presidential debate on ABC News.

The term "cages" has continuously been used by Democrats in attacks against Trump and the detention of immigrants arriving at the border according to Politifact. The Trump administration says that the facilities it uses are not cages. The description has been used to refer to chain-link enclosures holding immigrants at border processing facilities during both the Obama and Trump administrations. Particularly, critics of Trump’s "zero-tolerance" policy that resulted in family separations circulated a photo that purportedly showed children face down on the floor behind a chain-link enclosure during Trump’s tenure. However, the photo was from 2014 when Obama was president. The fact-check showed the Associated Press photo was taken in 2014 at a Customs and Border Protection facility in Nogales, Ariz. The photo was used in an Arizona Republic article centered on an influx of children arriving at the border unaccompanied by a parent or guardian.

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