President Donald Trump on Tuesday taunted online activists who shared photos of children at immigration detention facilities as a means of criticizing his administration, noting that the photos had been taken during the tenure of his predecessor, Barack Obama.
“Democrats mistakenly tweet 2014 pictures from Obama’s term showing children from the Border in steel cages. They thought it was recent pictures in order to make us look bad, but backfires,” Trump wrote online. “Dems must agree to Wall and new Border Protection for good of country...Bipartisan Bill!”
The photograph in question began to circulate online over the weekend, shared by Obama speechwriter Jon Favreau and activists Shaun King and Linda Sarsour, among others. It shows two children lying on green mats on a concrete floor behind a chain-link fence. The photo was taken by The Associated Press and was published by The Arizona Republic in 2014 as part of a photo gallery. Favreau later deleted his tweet.
Opponents of Trump have been especially critical in recent weeks of an Immigration and Customs Enforcement policy announced earlier this month that separates parents and children who enter the U.S. illegally. Trump has accused Democrats of installing the policy, but it was, in fact, rolled out by Attorney General Jeff Sessions as a consequence of a broader policy to refer “100 percent of illegal southwest border crossings” to the Justice Department for prosecution.
“If you are smuggling a child, then we will prosecute you and that child will be separated from you as required by law,” Sessions said in prepared remarks at an event in Arizona this month. “If you don’t like that, then don’t smuggle children over our border.”
Trump himself has called for comprehensive immigration legislation that would include a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children. But the president has insisted that any immigration deal also include significant border security reforms, including funding for his promised wall, and an end to certain immigration programs, demands that Democrats have largely balked at.