"Comparing this president to the president we had is outrageous, number one. We didn't lock people up in cages, we didn't separate families, we didn't do all of those things," the former vice president said at Thursday's Democratic presidential debate, defending Obama's immigration policies.
On "America's Newsroom," anchor Julie Banderas said the claim was "simply untrue," asking whether the so-called cages were first used in 2014, during the Obama years, to deal with a massive influx of migrant families at the southern border.
"That is correct," said CBP deputy commissioner Robert Perez, explaining that "loopholes" in immigration laws are what has fueled the border crisis dating back several administrations, not just the last two.
He said "real inroads" have been made in recent months, especially with greater cooperation from Mexican authorities," to bring down the number of migrants at the border.
"Congress just got back in town. It is time for them to get to work with us to find lasting solutions to this ongoing challenge," he said.
Perez said cages are not being used currently at longer-term border detention facilities, but short-term holding facilities near the border became overpopulated this summer. He said "unprecedented steps" have been taken to provide additional space and essential medical care for migrants.
"Today, over 200 physician assistants and nurse practitioners [are] all along the southern border to make sure that these very vulnerable populations, who continue to be exploited by criminal elements, are being cared for while they're in our custody," said Perez.
Immigration officials apprehended just over 64,000 migrants at the southern border in August – a dramatic drop that the Trump administration is presenting as a sign that its diplomatic engagement with Mexico and other countries is having positive effects on the ground.
The 64,006 migrants apprehended or deemed inadmissible represents a 22 percent drop from July, when 82,055 were apprehended, and a 56 percent drop from the peak of the crisis in May, when more than 144,000 migrants were caught or deemed inadmissible.