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President Trump defended his now-reversed family separation policy at the third presidential debate Thursday, claiming children were brought to the U.S. "by coyotes and lots of bad people," while Joe Biden said it "violates every notion of who we are as a nation."

Driving the news: A court filing revealed this week that the U.S. government cannot locate the parents of 545 migrant children separated under a 2017 pilot program as part of President Trump’s immigration policy. The number of parents who are currently considered “unreachable” is larger than was previously known.

The big picture: Trump tried to tie the policy to Biden and the Obama administration, asking, "Who built the cages, Joe?" But cases of children being separated from parents at the border were very rare during the Bush and Obama presidencies.

What they're saying: Asked if his administration has a plan to find the parents of the more than 500 migrant children, Trump responded: "Yes, we're trying very hard. But a lot of these kids come out without the parents. They come over through cartels and through coyotes and through gangs."

  • He added of the migrant detention centers: "They are so well taken care of. They're in facilities that were so clean."

Biden responded: "These 500-plus kids came with parents. They separated them at the border to make it a disincentive to come to begin with." 

  • "It's not coyotes didn't bring them over. Their parents were with them. They got separated from their parents and it makes us a laughingstock and violates every notion of who we are as a nation."

Asked about record deportations under the Obama administration, Biden acknowledged that they made a "mistake" on immigration policy and that "it took too long to get it right."

  • "Within 100 days, I'm going to send to the United States Congress a pathway to citizenship for over 11 million undocumented people," Biden pledged.
  • "And all of those so-called DREAMers, those DACA kids, they're going to be immediately certified again to be able to stay in this country and put on a path to citizenship."

Go deeper

Jan 23, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Biden speaks to Mexican president about reversing Trump's "draconian immigration policies"

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador. Ismael Rosas/Eyepix Group/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

President Biden told his Mexican counterpart, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, on a phone call Friday that he plans to reverse former President Trump’s “draconian immigration policies.”

The big picture: The Biden administration has already started repealing several of Trump’s immigration policies, including ordering a 100-day freeze on deporting many unauthorized immigrants, halting work on the southern border wall, and reversing plans to exclude undocumented people from being included in the 2020 census.

5 hours ago - Health

FDA advisory panel recommends Pfizer boosters for those 65 and older

A healthcare worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at the Key Biscayne Community Center on Aug. 24, 2021. Photo: Eva Marie Uzcategui/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A key Food and Drug Administration advisory panel on Friday overwhelmingly voted against recommending Pfizer vaccine booster shots for younger Americans, but unanimously recommended approving the third shots for individuals 65 and older, as well as those at high-risk of severe COVID-19.

Why it matters: While the votes are non-binding, and the FDA must still make a final decision, Friday's move pours cold water on the Biden administration's plan to begin administering boosters to most individuals who received the Pfizer vaccine later this month.

6 hours ago - World

France recalls ambassadors from U.S. and Australia over submarine deal

Secretary of State Antony Blinken (L), French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian (C), and French ambassador to the U.S. Philippe Etienne. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

France has taken the extraordinary step of recalling its ambassadors to the U.S. and Australia after both countries blindsided their French allies with a new military pact and submarine contract, the French Foreign Ministry announced on Friday.

The backstory: While sealing an agreement with the U.S. and U.K. to acquire nuclear submarines, Australia ripped up an existing $90 billion submarine deal with France. That led senior French officials to accuse the U.S. of a "stab in the back."