Former Obama top official defends migrant detention centers, says ‘cages’ not invented when Trump took office

Jeh Johnson discusses detention facilities

Trump’s administration has received intense criticism for its migrant detention centers and the way it treated migrant children — including putting kids in “cages” — but some have noted that migrants faced similar facilities under President Obama.

“Chain link barriers, partitions, fences, cages — whatever you want to call them — were not invented on January 2017,” Johnson said, referring to the month of Trump’s inauguration.

Johnson said that chain-link fences or “cages” weren’t ideal but were one of the ways authorities dealt with a mass immigrants that had to be transferred to Health and Human Services (HHS) within 72 hours. “During that 72 hour period, when you have something that is a multiple — like four times of what you’re accustomed to in the existing infrastructure, you’ve got to find places quickly to put kids,” he said before suggesting the alternative was putting them on “the streets.”

When House Democrats held a hearing on migrant detention, they brandished an Obama-era photo of fenced-in migrants.

Most recently, several media organizations were forced to make retractions after falsely attributing an Obama-era migrant child-detention statistic to President Trump.

Manfred Nowak, an expert from the U.N. Global Study on Children Deprived of Liberty, claimed that 100,000 migrant children were detained by the Trump administration and indicated that it was the “world’s highest rate” of detained children. The following day, however, Nowak acknowledged that the cited number was from 2015, under President Obama.

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