CNN Host Corners Rick Santorum for Falsely Claiming Asylum Seekers Were Not Separated by Trump's Policy: It's A 'Human Crisis'

CNN’s Alisyn Camerota on Tuesday systematically fact-checked former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum over Donald Trump’s zero tolerance policy, describing the forced separation of families as a “human crisis” that was triggered by the president.


Camerota asked Santorum if he has “any  faith that these 2000-plus children will be reunited with their parents?”

Santorum suggested “eventually” the families will be reunited, before arguing the children are “safe” in U.S. detention when compared with the alternative.

“Sort of,” Camerota replied. “I want to check that. Some are in foster care. Some were transported to New York City and New York state, thousands of miles where where they last saw their parents. We don't know if there's a process that's tracking them. In fact, we've heard there is no tracking mechanism and the governor of New York doesn't know where these kids are or who they are or how they will be restored, so I don't hear the process by which this is going to happen.”

“Look, I don't think the Trump administration has handled this particularly well,” Santorum admitted. “… There are legal impediments in place for the administration to be able to reunite these families.”

Camerota pointed out there are “logistical,” not legal, impediments. “Legally they they didn't have to separate the families and they can reunite them,” she said. “They don't know how.”

Santorum began listing off talking points about the so-called “catch and release” policy of Barack Obama’s administration, which he claimed “says to everybody that comes across the border, ‘If you have a child you'll get into this country,’ and the administration said we won't continue that policy.”

“I want to check things you're saying individually,” Camerota replied, suggesting one option was for the Trump administration to put resources into speeding up the court docket.

“I agree, they should have done that,” Santorum said.

“They're not even telling us the numbers because it seems like they don't know,” Camerota later added. “Do you know of a process whereby the parents will ever see their children again?”

“The answer to that question is some parents will and some parents won't because some parents have been deported,” Santorum replied. 

“Just get your head around that,” Camerota pressed. “These parents don't know where their kids are. Can you imagine not knowing where your kids are?”

“The parents are not blameless in this situation,” Santorum said.

“Some of them were asylum seekers,” the host replied. “Some were asylum seekers. That's legal.”

“Asylum seekers are not separated,” Santorum parroted.

“Yes, they are,” Camerota explained as the former senator protested. “Yes, they are, Rick, yes, they are.”

“If you come to the border and make an appeal for asylum you are not separated from your children,” Santorum claimed.

“I wish that were true,” Camerota said. “They have been separated.”

Camerota then read an excerpt from a Los Angeles Times report, published Wednesday, that described the process of separating families as having “begun accelerating last year, long before zero tolerance was announced in the spring.”

“Among these cases, according to records and interviews, there are many that happened at ports of entry,” the Times reported. “Court filings describe numerous cases in recent months in which families were separated after presenting themselves at a port of entry to ask for asylum."

“This was a zero-tolerance policy, Rick,” Camerota said. “It was even for asylum seekers.”

“Well, I don't know what happened,” Santorum admitted.

“It was a zero tolerance policy,” Camerota explained. “it was stated as that … It was supposed to be a deterrent and it has blown up into this, you know, human crisis.”

“There's no doubt it's blown up to a human crisis and the media has reported on that in many ways but the media doesn't report on the human crisis of children coming to the borer themselves,” Santorum charged. “… So the idea that putting these children in detention is the worst thing that's happened to them, I’m not sure that is necessarily the case.”

“Yes, that’s how desperate their situation was, that they were willing to risk their life to get here,” Camerota shot back.

Watch below, via CNN:

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