Attorney General Jeff Sessions claimed Thursday that the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” prosecution policy for undocumented people apprehended at the border — a family separation policy, in practice — was “never really intended” to separate families, despite multiple warnings he’d issued to migrant families that they would be separated if arrested at the border.
In an interview with Sessions, CBN News’ David Brody said that the “media narrative” surrounding the Trump administration’s family separation policy was that “optics have not been good for the administration.”
“Well, it hasn’t been good,” Sessions agreed, “and the American people don’t like the idea that we’re separating families.”
“We never really intended to do that,” he continued. “What we intended to do was to make sure that adults who bring children into the country are charged with the crime they’ve committed, instead of giving that special group of adults immunity of prosecution, which is what, in effect, we were doing.”
Sessions announced in April that he was ordering U.S. attorneys to pursue a “zero tolerance” prosecution policy along the border, meaning that criminal illegal entry charges would systematically be brought against parents apprehended with children, even though that was not the case in past administrations.
Because children cannot be held in criminal detention, the policy necessarily led to the separation of thousands of children from the adults with whom they were apprehended.
Sessions was explicit about this point.
“We don’t want to separate families, but we don’t want families to come to the border illegally and attempt to enter into this country improperly,” he said in May. “The parents are subject to prosecution while children may not be. So, if we do our duty and prosecute those cases, then children inevitably for a period of time might be in different conditions.”