Jeff Sessions’ Deceitful Spin on Family Separation

In an interview on Tuesday morning with conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt, Attorney General Jeff Sessions doubled down on his defense of the Trump administration’s practice of tearing apart families seeking refuge in the United States, including those seeking asylum. The interview revealed not only Sessions’ lack of basic empathy and compassion but also his willingness to deceive the public in defending this cruel policy.

During the conversation, Hewitt pushed Sessions to consider the implications of separating a child from his or her parent, even asking if Sessions could imagine his own grandchildren being taken from their parents. Yet Sessions would not be moved, opting instead to paint these devastated, vulnerable parents as criminals who are “just coming here because they’d like to make more money.”

Further questioned on the morality of detaining people seeking asylum, Sessions resorted to outright lies. The issue, Sessions explained, is that people are not pursuing asylum in the correct way, by arriving through a U.S. port of entry: “If you come to the country, you should come through … the port of entry and make a claim of asylum.”  

Here’s what the Attorney General is not saying: Under its family separation policy, asylum seekers who have followed this exact protocol are still having their children ripped away. It happened to both Ms. L and Mirian G, two mothers who are a part of our class-action lawsuit. Fleeing the Congo, Ms. L, arrived at a port of entry near San Diego with her then 6-year-old daughter to seek asylum. Despite having committed no crime and having followed the correct protocol for seeking asylum, Ms. L and her daughter were detained. Four days later, her daughter was taken from her and sent to a government facility in Chicago. Ms. L was sent to an immigration detention center. The mother and daughter were kept apart by 2,000 miles for more than four months until the ACLU intervened on their behalf. Mirian G., an asylum seeker from Honduras, experienced similar cruelty: After presenting herself at port of entry, Border Patrol agents took away her 18-month-old son. She didn’t see him again for more than two months.

Sessions would have us believe that those who follow the rules will not be subjected to this kind of inhumane treatment, but that’s simply untrue. No one seeking asylum, even those not entering through ports of entry, should be treated like a criminal. But for Sessions to claim that the administration is only separating families who cross the border illegally is just wrong. Our clients did everything by the book and still had their children taken from them.

Sessions also spent much of the conversation attempting to portray the administration’s family separation policy as par for the course. “Every time somebody … gets prosecuted in America for a crime, American citizens, and they go to jail, they’re separated from their children,” Sessions argued. Parents seeking refuge in the United States who are prosecuted for crossing the border someplace other than a port of entry, Sessions’ line of reasoning goes, are simply being treated as any American citizen who is incarcerated.

But since when does the government refuse to reunite a parent and child after someone has served her time?

Crossing the border without proper documentation is a misdemeanor that typically carries the penalty of a few days in jail if you’re prosecuted. What the Attorney General failed to mention is that the government is refusing to give kids back to parents once they have served their time. Our client, Ms. C, experienced this firsthand. After Ms. C, an asylum seeker who was prosecuted for entering the country illegally, served her 25-day criminal misdemeanor sentence, she expected to be reunited with her 14-year-old son who had been cruelly taken from her. Instead, Ms. C was forced to wait more than eight months after serving her sentence before the two were reunited.

It is one thing to defend a morally reprehensible policy, but it is another thing entirely to spew lies in making that defense. On Tuesday Sessions crossed that line.

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Dr. Timothy Leary

How is his "Deceitful Spin" any surprise? Look who he works for.

Anonymous

Look who he is!!!

Chuck

So Doc or you saying it's ok for these people to break the law?

Dr. Timothy Leary

No Chuck, it's only OK for me to break the law.

Ruth Ricci

This policy practice under trump and sessions is unbelievabley frightening to the core. If allowed to continue, and not immediately stopped, trump will amp up his cruel and unconstitutional policy of tearing peoples lives apart, families apart and murdering innocent refugees . There will be more arrests, like the recent one where a pizza delivery employee was arrested at the gate of a army facility, in a sanctuary city because he was from South America, with no license. All this in the name of making America great again. If trump succeeds and no one speaks up and acts for these children, trump will continue his mission of removing all people who don’t meet his criteria for what makes someone a human being or what makes them animals. Animals, according to trump, belong in cages. We have a president of the United States caging human beings, little children. Where’s the outrage?

Judge Dredd

Sanctuary city/state or not, entering a military base means you have present an ID card which is complaint with the REAL ID Act of 2005. Fort Hamilton, specifically requires that individuals present credentials which are REAL ID complaint in order to access the base, the NYC ID card doesn't meet that definition. This base, following Homeland Security Presidential Directive 12 means that all (unescorted) visitors and uncleared contractors must undergo a NCIC III if you don't hold a CAC, which who apparently signed a wavier to conduct the NCIC III check on himself. The person in question had a warrant from ICE which showed up in during this NCIC III check. State and local laws do not apply to property owned by the Federal Government or other critical areas like nuclear power plants (who are regulated by the Department of Energy and for oblivious reasons a requirement for an REAL ID complaint form of ID ).

If one doesn't have any n REAL ID complaint form of IDs then it is best to STAY AWAY from military installations. This portion of the REAL ID act started enforcement on Oct. 10, 2017. No, this is NOT a Trump thing, far from it..it was enacted during the Bush Administration.

Chuck

Wow Ruth you or so right they should be ashamed of them selves for up holding the law. Shame on them for violating the law breaking parents. The sad thing is the kids suffer so the parents should not break the law...

Dave

Actually Obama was the one who put kids in cages. Sessions is correct in that anyone arrested as an American citizen has their children taken from them. If they are to be reported, then the children should stay in government control until the person is deported. That is just plain old common sense.

Anonymous

Perjury, unethical conduct, unlawful conduct . . . Shouldn’t he face some sort of sanctions at least from his state bar? And in a position of such power, his abuse of authority and defiance of the law should be grounds for suspension or disbarrment . . .

Gramma T.

Citizens who are sentenced to jail are separated from their children after their day in court, and the children usually stay with family. Not the same at all, and he knows this. Does he really think we are stupid enough to think it's the same situation???

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