President Donald Trump said Tuesday he’s not looking to revive the practice of separating migrant children from their families at the southern border. At the same time, he suggested the policy had worked to deter migrants from coming into the U.S.

Last summer the administration separated more than 2,500 children from their families.

“We’re not looking to do that,” Trump told reporters before meeting with Egypt’s president at the White House. But he also noted: “Once you don’t have it, that’s why you see many more people coming. They’re coming like it’s a picnic, because let’s go to Disneyland.”

President Donald Trump welcomes visiting Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to the White House in Washington, Tuesday, April 9, 2019. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
President Donald Trump welcomes visiting Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to the White House in Washington, Tuesday, April 9, 2019. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

As for the separation of children, Trump declared that he was “the one that stopped it” and said his predecessor, President Barack Obama, was the one who had divided family members. The administration is allowed to separate children under certain circumstances including the health and welfare of the child and a parent’s criminal history. 

“Obama separated the children, just so you understand. President Obama separated the children,” Trump said. “The cages that were shown, very inappropriate, they were built by President Obama and the Obama administration –not by Trump.”

“The press knows it, you know it, we all know it,” he said. “I’m the one that stopped it.”

Last June, Trump signed an executive order that stopped family separations.

Trump also slammed congressional Democrats Tuesday for not doing enough to “act” on border security.

“Homeland security is what we want–there’s no better term, there’s no better name,” Trump said. “We want homeland security and that’s what we’re gonna get.”

At a Senate Homeland Security Committee meeting on border issues, child welfare and border officials warned there wasn’t room or capability to start separating children on a large scale again.

Children who cross the border alone are cared for by the Department of Health and Human Services, and most of the children are teenagers. But last summer, HHS started receiving babies and toddlers, and there was not enough space to house them, said Jonathan White, the career civil servant tasked by Health and Human Services with helping to reunify children.

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