Friday on Fox News Channel’s “The Ingraham Angle,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions defended the Trump administration’s zero-tolerance border policy.
Sessions explained in the past during the Obama administration, loopholes had allowed for an increase in illegal entry. He maintained that through this effort, children separated from parents caught illegally crossing the border were handled with care.
“[W]e have watched what happened with the Obama policies, and over the years, we went from 15,000 illegal entries to 75,000,” Sessions said. “This is a huge loophole in our system that’s attracting more and more people as more and more people understand that under previous policies, if they were entering the country unlawfully, nothing ever happened.”
“But we are doing the right thing,” he continued. “We are taking care of these children. They are not being abused. Health and Human Services house them in good conditions. They work hard at it. We spent a billion dollars last year, Health and Human Services did, in taking care of children who entered the country unlawfully. And, Laura, one more thing. The vast majority of those children still tend to be the unaccompanied minors. But we’ve had a big surge in families bringing children or some adults bringing children with them.”
Sessions explained the procedure and that if entry came through a port of entry and not illegally, then a different set of rules applied to the border crossers.
“If they enter the country at a port of entry and there are many of those along the border, they are not violating the law,” he said. “The mother or father in that circumstance would not be prosecuted, and the families are staying together. They’re — presumably, they are claiming an asylum, and that’s — they would not be prosecuted and not be separated.”
“But if they go out in the desert, they cross a fence or barrier, our officers have to identify them,” Sessions continued. “Follow them, apprehend them. They are violating the law, and they need to be prosecuted for that. He simply cannot condone that kind of activity. We want to end this process of children being brought across dangerous territory, placing those children at risk. If they want to claim asylum, let them go through the port of entry. That’s the way it should be done.”
Host Laura Ingraham then asked Sessions to react to critics likening his efforts to Nazi Germany and the treatment of Jews.
Sessions called it “a real exaggeration” and explained the criteria for asylum.
“Well, it’s a real exaggeration,” Sessions said. “In Nazi Germany, they were keeping the Jews from leaving the country, but this is a serious matter. We need to think it through, the rational and thoughtful about it. We want to allow asylum for people who qualify for it. But people who want economic migration for their personal financial benefit and what they think is their families benefit is not a basis for a claim of asylum. But they can make that claim. We will process it, and I will review the situation and make a decision.”
“Those children, if the parent brings them across the border in an unlawful area and the parent is deported, they will take the children home with them,” he added. “That is true. If the parent claims asylum and is allowed to stay here, then the children stay here also. And they’re kept in — Health and Human Services takes custody.”
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