May 7, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Biden campaign targets Trump family separation policy in new ad

Former President Biden stands in front of a microphone

Former President Trump looks on during a campaign event on Dec. 19, 2023 in Waterloo, Iowa. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

The Biden campaign on Tuesday is launching a digital ad to remind Latino voters of President Trump's family separation policy at the border — officially announced six years ago today — which resulted in nearly 4,000 kids being taken from their parents.

Why it matters: The Biden campaign is upping its effort to puncture nostalgia for Trump's four years in office. Some Americans have increasingly embraced some of Trump's more extreme immigration policies and rhetoric.

Zoom in: The ad, called Ripped Apart, interlaces video of Trump making anti-immigrant comments with the cries of children who were separated from their parents.

  • The ad highlights Biden's efforts to reunite families.
  • "If Trump is re-elected, the chaos and cruelty we saw in his first term is the floor: he'll go even further to attack and demonize immigrants, while doing nothing to address the real issues plaguing our broken immigration system," Biden-Harris campaign manager Julie Chávez Rodríguez says in a statement.

Flashback: The separation policy — in place since mid-2017 but formally announced in 2018 — and the torrent of news coverage about families was a pivotal moment in the Trump administration that largely turned public opinion against him. Trump reversed course by June 2018.

  • Families were separated as border authorities implemented a "zero tolerance" policy that required adults to be criminally prosecuted — a misdemeanor for first-time offenses — for crossing the border illegally.
  • That meant kids who had traveled with their parents were taken into government custody and, because of faulty tracking systems, many were apart from their parents for months.

Between the lines: Trump campaign spokesperson Karoline Leavitt says in a statement that Biden's "reversal of President Trump's immigration policies has created an unprecedented immigration, humanitarian, and national security crisis on our southern border and has led to [the] highest rates of human trafficking on record."

  • She adds that Trump "will restore his effective immigration policies, implement brand new crackdowns that will send shockwaves to all the world's criminal smugglers, and marshal every federal and state power necessary to institute the largest deportation operation of illegal criminals, drug dealers, and human traffickers in American history."

The big picture: Immigration has catapulted to one of the top issues on voters' minds this election season — and Biden has explored an executive order to limit crossings at the Southern border.

  • Border authorities had 1.3 million encounters with immigrants from October to March alone.
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