President Donald J. Trump vowed on Monday that the United States would not become a “migrant camp” as he faced mounting pressure to stop families being separated as a deterrent to illegal immigration.
“The United States will not be a migrant camp, and it will not be a refugee holding facility,” Trump said in remarks delivered at the White House. “It won’t be.”
“You look at what’s happening in Europe, you look at what’s happening in other places, we can’t allow that to happen to the United States. Not on my watch.”
Children are being used by some of the worst criminals on earth as a means to enter our country. Has anyone been looking at the Crime taking place south of the border. It is historic, with some countries the most dangerous places in the world. Not going to happen in the U.S.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 18, 2018
About 2,000 children have been separated from their parents or guardians over six weeks, according to U.S. authorities, since the Trump administration announced that all migrants illegally crossing the Mexican border would be arrested, regardless of whether the adults were seeking asylum.
Since children cannot be sent to the facilities where their parents are held, they are separated from them.
Trump has repeatedly said he wants family separations to end, but has refused to take responsibility for them — instead blaming Democrats, the minority party in Congress, whom he accuses of blocking legislation on the broader issue of illegal immigration.
He doubled down on that claim on Monday in a series of tweets, and again in remarks before a meeting of the National Space Council.
“If the Democrats would sit down instead of obstructing, we could have something done very quickly. Good for the children, good for the country, good for the world,” he said. “We have the worst immigration laws in the entire world.”
“We’re stuck with these horrible laws. They’re horrible laws. What’s happening is so sad, is so sad. And it can be taken care of quickly, beautifully,” he added. “But just remember, a country without borders is not a country at all. We need borders, we need security. We need safety. We have to take care of our people.”
In a rare criticism of the United States, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Monday that migrant children should not be separated from their families.
“As a matter of principle, the secretary-general believes that refugees and migrants should always be treated with respect and dignity, and in accordance with existing international law,” said U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric.
“Children must not be traumatized by being separated from their parents. Family unity must be preserved,” he added.
U.N. rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein also spoke out against the U.S. administration’s policy of separating migrant families, saying “the thought that any state would seek to deter parents by inflicting such abuse on children is unconscionable.”