Social Media Posts Misquote Trump on Immigrant Family Separations

Quick Take

President Donald Trump didn’t say “‘GOOD’ about the kids being separated from the parents” at the southern border during the final presidential debate, as social media posts wrongly claim. He said “go ahead” to the moderator, who was trying to move on to the next topic.

Full Story

During the final presidential debate on Oct. 22, President Donald Trump made some false and misleading claims about immigration and his administration’s policy that led to mass separations of immigrant families, as we explained.

But some Trump critics took to social media during the debate and spread their own faulty claim on the subject by wrongly relaying a purported response by the president during the debate.

“If you heard Trump say ‘GOOD’ about the kids being separated from their parents, and you STILL plan to vote for him, you’re inhuman,” the posts falsely claim.

A review of the debate video and transcripts shows that Trump said “go ahead” to the debate’s moderator, Kristen Welker — not “good” — as Welker was trying to move on to a new section of the debate.

Here’s a video that begins at the relevant portion:


The moment in the debate, as the full video shows, includes erroneous claims made by Trump about foreign nationals who are apprehended crossing the border and released pending immigration hearings — which he refers to as “catch and release.”

As Welker indicated she was attempting to move to a new subject, Biden referred to recent news that U.S. officials reportedly cannot locate the parents of more than 500 immigrant children who were separated by the Trump administration, even before the official start of its 2018 “zero tolerance” border policy.

Welker: …let’s give Vice President Biden a chance to respond, and then we’re going to move on to the next section.

Trump:  You don’t know the law, Joe.

Welker: Vice President Biden, your response.

Biden: Know the law, what he’s telling you is simply not true. Check it out.

Trump: Well, check it out. They don’t come back.

Biden: Check it out.

Welker: All right. Let’s move on to the next section.

Trump: But we don’t have to worry about it, because they terminated it. So we don’t have to worry about it anymore, Joe.

Welker: Let’s move on to the next section.

Biden: That’s right. And you — 525 kids not knowing where in God’s name they’re going to be and lost their parents.

Trump: Go ahead.

Welker: All right. Let’s talk about our next section, which is race in America. 

The erroneous claim that Trump said “good” about the family separations spread almost immediately online. One tweet of the claim was shared more than 11,000 times and liked more than 50,000 times.

While outlets such as Buzzfeed News quickly pointed out the facts, the claim still continued to spread through various Facebook posts, including on pages such as “Blue Tsunami” and “The President Obama Coalition.” One popular Facebook post, shared more than 1,300 times, was updated to correct the erroneous claim.

Editor’s note: is one of several organizations working with Facebook to debunk misinformation shared on social media. Our previous stories can be found here.

This fact check is available at IFCN’s 2020 US Elections FactChat #Chatbot on WhatsApp. Click here for more.


Ainsley, Julia and Jacob Soboroff. “Lawyers say they can’t find the parents of 545 migrant children separated by Trump administration.” NBC News. 20 Oct 2020.

Debate transcript: Trump, Biden final presidential debate moderated by Kristen Welker.” USA Today. 23 Oct 2020.

Donald Trump & Joe Biden Final Presidential Debate Transcript 2020.” 22 Oct 2020.

Full Debate: President Trump and Joe Biden Square Off for Final Time Ahead of Election.” Wall Street Journal. YouTube. 22 Oct 2020.

Kiely, Eugene, et. al. “FactChecking the Final 2020 Presidential Debate.” 23 Oct 2020.

Lytvynenko, Jane. “No, Trump Didn’t Say ‘Good’ In Response To A Question About Kids Separated From Their Parents At The Border.” Buzzfeed News. 22 Oct 2020.

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