In an interview with conservative talk show host Hugh Hewitt, Attorney General Jeff Sessions spoke about the administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy, saying that it is “absolutely necessary” to separate undocumented parents from their children.
Here are some of the biggest takeaways from the interview:
1.) When asked why, at the very least, infants can’t stay with their parents during the hearing process, Sessions said “well, most are not infants.”
“Most are teenagers, although we do have a number of younger ones now, more than we’ve seen recently,” he continued. “And they are maintained in a very safe environment not by the law enforcement team at Homeland Security, but put with Health and Human Services.”
2.) Sessions admitted that he had never personally visited one of the children’s holding facilities.
“I have not visited them,” he said. “Those are within the ambit of the Homeland Security and the Health and Human Services. But I believe for the most part they’re well taken care of.”
3.) Sessions compared undocumented immigrants coming across the border to convicted American criminals, saying that those who break the law lose their children.
“Every time somebody, Hugh, gets prosecuted in America for a crime, American citizens, and they go to jail, they’re separated from their children,” Sessions said. “We don’t want to do this at all. If people don’t want to be separated from their children, they should not bring them with them. We’ve got to get this message out.”
4.) Sessions does not think it’s a “moral right” for refugees and asylum seekers to be allowed access to legal counsel to help them navigate the complicated legal waters of asylum requests.
“No, I don’t think it’s a moral right, Hugh,” he said. “No, no. If you come to the country, you should come through, first, through the port of entry and make a claim of asylum if you think you have a legitimate asylum claim.”
5.) Sessions said he would recommend to President Donald Trump that facilities be built specifically to house immigrant parents and their children, that he would “look into” visiting one of the facilities, and that, if it fits his schedule, he’ll try to go with Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), who was barred from one of the facilities in Texas on Sunday.