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.

Trump's Family Separation Crisis: How to Help

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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???

Anonymous

Gramma, his supporters bought that lie Lock Stock & Barrel. They posted memes all over Facebook about it. So to answer your question yes there are people stupid enough to believe that.

leeh71955

...Sessions is assigned to herd humans into containment, as he did for years of Alabama's White Privileges, and constantly support the mentality. The American Political Constipation is distracting, and all good-will efforts are for sale. Even the Investigative Media report abuses of authority, with garrulous talk as the response, yet claiming to be a service to the public.

Chuck

Although it is sad the parents should think about it before they break the law.

Brian

Earth to Chuck!! Did you not read the story? They did not break the law. They asked border enforcement for asylum as Sessions has said they should, and they were still detained and children taken away. Do you not have any reading comprehension? Give it up on your rote, canned, responses.

Anonymous

Agree although your comment contradicts the ACLU agenda.

Anonymous

Brian, read it again. The blog does not say that the specific cases the blog cites obeyed the law.

Anonymous

Separating families, while it is traumatizing to the children, it sends a message to people coming into America illegally. It is used as a deterrent... Ultimately, the parent is responsible for choosing to put their children in that situation. If they are truly seeking asylum, let them do so legally!! If i t were the other way around and Americans were trying to cross into other countries illegally, we would be shot on site!!! Where's the outrage that Mexico doesn't clean up their massive criminal, corrupted government and start cleaning up the drug dealers that are terrorizing their citizens and making their country unsafe.. No, we are expected to take in the people fleeing their country instead of forcing mexico to clean up their country!!! This kind of thinking is what is wrong with this country... This kind of thinking is what will destroy this country..

Anonymous

Completely agree. It's a sad situation for the kids, but the parents made this choice and it's NOT our problem.

Anonymous

A. Cleaning up at here at home by getting rid of the drug consumers might go a long way in helping Mexico clean up the drug pushers.
B. You apparently missed the portion of the article mentioning seeking asylum legally is not a remedy for having your kids taken away.

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