Attorney General Jeff Sessions said at the National Sheriffs’ Association annual conference in New Orleans on Monday that the way to end the stream of people, including children, who are coming across the U.S. border illegally is to build the wall and enact laws that stop illegal immigration and amnesty.
“We do not want to separate children from their parents,” Sessions said. “We do not want adults to bring children into this country unlawfully, placing them at risk.”
“But we do have a policy of prosecuting adults who flout our laws to come here illegally instead of waiting their turn or claiming asylum at any port of entry,” Sessions said. “We cannot and will not encourage people to bring children by giving them blanket immunity from our laws.”
Sessions criticized the Obama administration when parents who separated themselves from their children by sending them on their own or with human trafficking operations to the U.S./Mexico border.
President Barack Obama, he said, did not enforce federal immigration law and gave thousands of unaccompanied minors entry into the United States.
The federal government has also spent more than $1 billion taxpayer dollars a year caring for those children and those brought here by law-breaking parents or other adults, Sessions noted.
“That is an enormous cost that we bear because we sent a message to those crossing illegally to bring children and avoid prosecution and deportation,” Sessions said. “This country is dedicated to caring for children.”
Sessions said the United States allows more than a million people to come to the country legally each year.
“But when we ignore our laws at the border we obviously encourage hundreds of thousands of people a year to likewise ignore our laws and illegally enter our country, creating an enormous burden on our law enforcement, our schools, our hospitals, and social programs,” Sessions said.
“President Trump has said this cannot continue,” Sessions said.
“We do not want to separate parents from their children,” Sessions said. “ If we build the wall, if we pass legislation to end the lawlessness, we won’t face these terrible choices.”
Sessions closed by saying the Trump administration stands with the law enforcement community.
“You can be certain about this: We have your backs, and you have our thanks,” Sessions said.
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