It often seems that no one actually speaks to each other in Trump’s White House. During the avoidable human rights crisis that was the unilateral Trump policy to separate children and their parents seeking asylum at the border, everyone in the administration seemed to have a different excuse. Trump erroneously claimed that it was a Democratic law and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen pretended that no such policy existed.
But it was Attorney General Jeff Sessions whose memory – per usual – seemed to fail him at the most convenient moment. He not only admitted that the policy was a deterrent for others seeking to enter the U.S., but even suggested that the Bible gives ample justification for the policy.
“Persons who violate the law of our nation are subject to prosecution,” Sessions explained. “I would cite to you the Apostle Paul and his clear and wise command in Romans 13 to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained them for the purpose of order. Orderly and lawful processes are good in themselves and protect the weak and lawful.”
“If you are smuggling a child, then we will prosecute you and that child will be separated from you as required by law. If you don’t like that, then don’t smuggle children over our border,” Sessions later said in a speech in San Diego.
“If you don’t want your child to be separated, then don’t bring them across the border illegally. It’s not our fault,” he continued.
Notwithstanding the fact that he already admitted the real and diabolical purpose of the inhumane policy, Sessions purposefully conflates seeking asylum with “violating the law.” It is not, nor has it ever been, illegal for people to seek asylum in the United States, which is precisely the “crime” for which they’re being punished at the border. Per The New York Times:
As The Times and others have reported, asylum seekers are also being turned away when they do present themselves at ports of entry. Even when immigrants improperly cross the border, they can still legally seek asylum.
But the administration’s zero-tolerance policy subjects all who cross the border illegally, including asylum seekers, to prosecution.”
Now, however, Sessions is claiming a new defense.
The Attorney General told the Christian Broadcasting Network’s David Brody that the administration “never really intended to” separate families at the border, after all.
“It hasn’t been good and the American people don’t like the idea that we are separating families… We never really intended to do that,” he said. “What we intended was to make sure that adults who bring children into the country are charged with the crime that they have committed.”
Not only did the policy “intend” to separate families, given that the directive was clear and the intent was promulgated by Sessions himself, but he essentially admits that his concession came as the result of poor optics into the manufactured crisis. The fact that the Attorney General could not have predicted that separating kids and parents and throwing them into cages would reflect poorly on the administration is a testament to his utter carelessness for both America’s humanitarian obligations and the overwhelming will of its citizens.
Of course, that’s par for the course in the Trump administration.