Side-by-side photos show migrant children locked up in cages under both Trump and Obama

  • Photos of detention facilities holding migrant children under the Obama and Trump administrations bear striking similarities.
  • The Trump administration has been enforcing what it refers to as a “zero-tolerance” policy, and photos have surfaced of children being detained away from their parents in cage-like facilities.
  • Similar photos from Obama-era border facilities have also surfaced.
  • On Wednesday, Trump signed an executive order to end the separation of migrant families in detention.

Photos of detention facilities holding migrant children during both the Trump and Obama administrations bear striking similarities.

Since April the Trump administration had been following a “zero-tolerance” policy, which criminally prosecutes people who illegally cross into US territory leading to separation from their accompanying children. Photos of these holding areas, many provided by the government, have been published and went some way towards Trump signing an executive order to end family separations.

But similar photos from Obama-era border facilities have also surfaced, sparking debate on responsibility for migrant children being detained and prompting criticism across party lines.

On the left is a photo taken on June 18, 2014, when Obama was president. Taken by the Associated Press at the Nogales Placement Center in Nogales, Arizona, run by US Customs and Border Protection, it shows two young girls sleeping on mattresses in what appears to be a caged holding cell. They’ve been separated from other children by age and gender.

The photo on the right was taken on June 17, 2018 at a border facility in McAllen, Texas, and was provided by the US Customs and Border Protection. It shows numerous young detainees, in what appears to be similar cages to the other photo, who have separated from their families.

The Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy enforced existing laws, and saw almost 2,000 children removed their families along the US-Mexico border over a six-week period

Former Obama staffer Jon Favreau initially tweeted the photo of two girls on mattresses in May, condemning the Trump administration’s policy. When it was revealed the photo was taken in 2014, he deleted the tweet saying the Obama government’s “challenge was reconnecting unaccompanied minors who showed up at the border with family or a safe sponsor.”

“Today, in 2018, the government is creating unaccompanied minors by tearing them away from family at the border,” Favreau said.

Under Trump’s new executive order, migrant children will be kept with their families where possible, though they will remain in detention facilities.