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Fact Checking Trump Administration Border Crisis Statements

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

The executive order that President Trump signed yesterday did two things. It ended a policy of separating children from their parents at the border. It also confirmed that many statements the administration made about its policy were false.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Before he ended his policy, the president said it was up to Congress to change the law.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: That's the Democrats' law. We can change it tonight. We can change it right now.

UNIDENTIFIED JOURNALIST #1: You're the president. You can change it right now.

UNIDENTIFIED JOURNALIST #2: Jeff Sessions changed it.

TRUMP: I will leave here - you need their votes. You need their votes.

GREENE: Days later, as political pressure intensified, the president ended it without Congress.

INSKEEP: Before the order, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen denied there even was a policy.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

KIRSTJEN NIELSEN: It's not a policy. Our policy at DHS is to do what we're sworn to do, which is to enforce the law.

INSKEEP: President Trump now confirms child separation was part of his policy with his written change in policy, which uses the word policy.

GREENE: Now, before the order, White House deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley said on this program that the president had no choice but to pursue this policy.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

GREENE: I mean, the president has the power to end this now.

HOGAN GIDLEY: Well, what you're asking now is, why don't we just ignore the law? And that's something that this administration's not going to do.

GREENE: Two days later, the president ended it with an order that repeatedly refers to acting within the law.

INSKEEP: Here's what is true. Securing the border is complicated. The harsh landscape, tangled laws and excruciating human stories guarantee that nothing is simple.

GREENE: On Monday, Secretary Nielsen insisted it was simple. A court ruling that limits the detention of children left just two options, a binary choice, separating families or chaos.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

NIELSEN: After 20 days, we have to release both unaccompanied children and accompanied children, which means that we cannot detain families together. The only option is to not enforce the law at all.

GREENE: Outside experts listed other choices here - releasing families with electronic monitoring, assigning case officers to keep track of them until their immigration hearings or maybe adding judges to speed up those hearings. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.