On Monday's New Day show, CNN devoted a segment to the story of a Romanian baby, Constanin Mutu, who was taken from his father by Border Patrol last year as they arrived to seek asylum, and hinted that it was somehow nefarious for the Trump administration to do so before the zero tolerance policy had been announced publicly.
But, as previously pointed out by NewsBusters, it has long been the case going back to previous administrations that a portion of asylum seekers are separated from their children if their parents have criminal records or are suspected of being a danger to their children, so the separation of this particular child might not have been a departure from Obama administration policy.
Introducing a segment with CNN contributor and New York Times reporter Caitlin Dickerson, fill-in host Erica Hill suggested that the Trump administration was being sneaky in separating the child from his father at the time it was done:
A four-month-old baby taken from his father who was seeking political asylum, he is the youngest known child to be separated from his famly at the U.S.-Mexico border. The New York Times investigation was able to track down Constantin who spent five months after being separated from his father in a foster home before finally reuniting with his family. That separation took place months before the Trump administration publicly launched its zero tolerance policy.
The two began by recalling how difficult it was for Dickerson to acquire information on the case and track down the baby.
A bit later, Hill recalled: "This was a famly that was seeking asylum fleeing Romania." Dickerson responded:
That's right. The vast majority of people who were affected by family separation and who are coming to the United States now are from Central America. But, in many ways, the Mutus sort of fit the profile of a traditional asylum seeker. They're Roma -- they're part of a persecuted ethnic minority and part of a group that for years has heard and thought that, if they came to the United States, they might be able to escape the sort of persecution and racism that they face in their home country, and so they decided to take a risk and to come here.
It was not mentioned that Border Patrol told Constanin's father, Vasile Mutu, that he was being separated from his child because of a criminal history, although this was mentioned in Dickerson's Times article on the subject. And in FX's series, The Weekly, Dickerson also noted that Mutu had a history of committing robbery, although Border Patrol would not specify whether his child was taken for that or some other reason.
It was also not clarified that Mutu had brought his child to a legal port of entry, so it seems unlikely to be connected to the zero tolerance policy which was aimed at those who crossed the border illegally.
Dickerson may have a point that it is worth looking into why the father was deported without his baby and whether that was a mistake in the process, but it was never mentioned either on CNN's New Day, fX's The Weekly, or in the TImes article that some families seeking asylum were also separated during the Obama administration and past administrations under unusual some circumstances.