Feinstein: 'I Didn't Really Know Enough' About Mistreatment of Undocumented Immigrants During Obama Years

June 11, 2018

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D., Calif.) said Sunday that while former President Barack Obama was in office, she was not well enough aware of the mistreatment undocumented immigrants faced, saying she has since learned more about the issue.

CNN's Jake Tapper mentioned to Feinstein a recent viral photo of undocumented children in a holding cell that was tweeted out by former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (D.). The photo was shared by many who attempted to condemn the Trump administration's actions at the southern U.S. border.

The issue with the photo going viral for that reason is it was taken in 2014 while Obama was in office.

"There were a lot of things done to undocumented immigrants that the immigrant community was very upset about during the Obama years, that Democrats didn't seem as outspoken about," Tapper said.

"What do you say to people who are saying, 'where was all this activism during the Obama years?'" he asked.

"I don't believe that it was nearly to the extent that it is today. And candidly, I didn't really know enough about it at that time to focus on it," Feinstein said.

"I do know about it now," she said, mentioning a Judiciary Committee meeting on the issue and what she has learned.

She blasted the Trump administration enforcing a policy – one that has been on the books for a number of years – of separating illegal immigrant parents from their children at the border. While the rules have existed for years, the enforcement of those rules has changed. The Trump administration has effectively ended the prior practice of giving a free pass to an illegal immigrant adult who is part of a family unit. When a parent is prosecuted for illegal entry, he or she is taken into custody by the U.S. Marshals and held until their case is heard before a judge. This can occur in as little as a day, or, particularly in cases where the parent pushes to stay in the United States rather than return to his or her home country, can take a number of days or weeks.

"I find it inhumane, callous, and something I never thought my country would do," Feinstein said.