Sessions cites Bible to justify immigration policy of separating kids from parents
Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the White House on Thursday cited the Bible as justification for the Trump administration’s policy of forcibly separating children from their parents if they cross the southern border illegally.
“Illegal entry into the United States is a crime — as it should be. Persons who violate the law of our nation are subject to prosecution,” Sessions said at a meeting in Fort Wayne, Ind., where he spoke about President Trump’s hardline immigration stance.
“I would cite you to 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,” Sessions said, according to video of the address on PBS.
Sessions threw the Good Book back at religious leaders who a day earlier had called the policy “inhumane” and “immoral.”
Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of the Galveston-Houston diocese in Texas on Wednesday told the US Conference of Catholic Bishops that separating mothers from their children was “immoral.”
Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley of the Boston diocese added it was “harmful” and “unjust.”
But Sessions remained unapologetic — and the White House later backed him up, with spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders, a mother and evangelical Christian, telling reporters that the Bible tells people not to break the law.
“Our policies that can result in short-term separation of families is not unusual or unjustified. American citizens that are jailed do not take their children to jail with them,” Sessions said in Indiana.
“And non-citizens who cross our borders unlawfully — between our ports of entry — with children are not an exception. They are the ones who broke the law; they are the ones who endangered their own children on their trek.”
Meanwhile, House Speaker Paul Ryan said earlier that he opposed the administration’s policy.
“We don’t want kids to be separated from their parents,” he said, but added that the policy was being dictated by a court ruling and that legislation was needed to fix the problem.
The court decision he referred to was a 1997 agreement called the Flores settlement, which required that the feds in many cases release immigrant children in their custody.
The settlement does not require the government to separate families who arrive together, and previous administrations did not interpret it that way.
But Trump and Sessions, an immigration hardliner, have declared a “zero tolerance” policy on illegal immigration and ordered that kids be taken from their parents as a deterrent that was supposed to scare migrant families from attempting to enter the US.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi slammed Trump’s policy as “barbaric” and said the administration should “stop the practice on a dime.”
Separating families as parents are being detained “is not what America is, but this is the policy of the Trump administration,” she said.
“What is it that they don’t get about how stupid, and wrong and immoral” the policy is, she said.
“This is not normal. It’s barbaric. It has to stop. I don’t know why there aren’t uprisings across the country.”
Thousands of children have been ripped away from their parents and sent to detention centers, with many confined to massive tents on military bases.