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AP FACT CHECK: Abrams on children in cages

February 6, 2019
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In this pool image from video, Stacey Abrams delivers the Democratic party's response to President Donald Trump's State of the Union address, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019 from Atlanta. Abrams narrowly lost her bid in November to become America's first black female governor, and party leaders are aggressively recruiting her to run for U.S. Senate from Georgia. Speaking from Atlanta, Abrams calls the shutdown a political stunt that "defied every tenet of fairness and abandoned not just our people, but our values." (Pool video image via AP)

WASHINGTON (AP) — A look at one of Democrat Stacey Abrams’ statements from her response to President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address on Tuesday night and how it compares with the facts:

ABRAMS: “We know bipartisanship could craft a 21st century immigration plan but this administration chooses to cage children and tear families apart.”

THE FACTS: The cages that Abrams mentions are actually chain-link fences and the Obama administration used them, too.

Children are held behind them, inside holding Border Patrol facilities, under the Trump administration. As well, Obama’s administration detained large numbers of unaccompanied children inside chain link fences in 2014. Images that circulated online of children in cages during the height of Trump’s family separations controversy were actually from 2014 when Obama was in office.

Children are placed in such areas by age and sex for safety reasons and are held for up to 72 hours by the Border Patrol.

The Department of Homeland Security 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 they 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.

At the height of the family separations, about 2,400 children were separated. Since then, 118 children were separated. Immigration officials are allowed to take a child from a parent in certain cases — serious criminal charges against a parent, concerns over the health and welfare of a child or medical concerns.

That policy has long been in place and is separate from the now-suspended zero-tolerance Trump administration policy that saw children separated from parents only because they had crossed illegally.

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