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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Bruce

Did you miss the part where the article discussed Asylum seekers following the legal procedure, and presenting themselves at a port of entry, are being detained and having their children taken from them? Did you miss that part of the article, did you read the article?

Anonymous

Your comment: If i t were the other way around and Americans were trying to cross into other countries illegally, we would be shot on site!!! Read some history so that you recognize tyranny when you see it. Americans crossing the street are shot on sight (and on site) by our militarized police. We don't need to cross a border. If you truly believe what you say, you need to travel more and believe less of what you hear.

Jordan S.

Jeff Sessions had expressly said that this policy is designed to punish Immigrants. Even those who have committed no crime. This is "Cruel and Unusual Punishment" and should be stopped by the Supreme Court. Why has the ACLU not pursued this legal remedy for this assault on our fellow Human Beings?

Anonymous

That's what they are doing. It takes years for a case to make it to the Supreme Court.

Anonymous

He can't apply it to those that have committed no crimes. The reason the children are being separated is because the parents are being charged with a crime and are taken to jail to await trial.

Military Vet

Well, I certainly didn't serve to have Jeff Sessions piss all over the American Values we strive in the military to uphold. @Chuck, your a monster, go exterminate yourself.

Anonymous

Hey Chuck, are you so dumb ya can't see they are following the law to ask for asylum to the letter? Go put yer nose back up Cheeto Boy's butt.

Anonymous

L and C came here under highly suspicious circumstances. It's almost impossible for a poor person from the Congo, with no connections in the USA, to illegally immigrate here. C is claiming that the middle class, stable, country of Brazil can't handle domestic violence and it's a bit of a mystery how she got to the border and is now speaking Spanish instead of Portuguese. I'm not familiar with the other case. However, if the USA thinks the person the child came with may not be the parent or may be endangering the child then we should put the child in foster care until we verify the identity of the child/parent and are sure the parent isn't putting the child in harm's way.

Brian

Based on President Trumps' outspoken racism regarding Hispanics, it is difficult for anyone in his administration to justify these actions as anything but racist, cruel, and mean spirited. This is not the result of a comprehensive thoughtful plan to deal with the children of asylum seeking huddle masses, it is the knee jerk reaction of a jerk.

Anonymous

Seesions is near retirement. He will go to his golden years as a hated man by millions who has no empathy for these innocent children. His grand children will read about him in the history books and know his legacy as evil.

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