SESSIONS CITES BIBLE TO DEFEND SEPARATING FAMILY MEMBERS
Lawmakers decry separations as White House defends policy
Washington — Attorney General Jeff Sessions is citing the Bible in defending the Trump administration’s policy of separating immigrant parents from their children after they enter the U.S. illegally.
Sessions was responding to criticism from the archbishop of Galveston-Houston. Cardinal Daniel DiNardo told the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops that separating babies from their mothers was immoral.
Speaking Thursday in Fort Wayne, Ind., Sessions said crossing the border illegally is a crime and the government shouldn’t be vilified for enforcing laws.
He pointed to a verse in the Book of Romans on obeying the laws of government, saying, “God has ordained them for the purpose of order.”
Washington — Congressional Republicans distanced themselves Thursday from the Trump administration’s policy of separating children from their parents at the southern border even as the White House cited the Bible in defending its “zero tolerance” approach to illegal border crossings.
“I can say that it is very biblical to enforce the law. That is actually repeated a number of times throughout the Bible,” said White House press secretary Sarah Sanders. “It’s a moral policy to follow and enforce the law.”
Attorney General Jeff Sessions had earlier cited the Bible in his defense of the border policy that has resulted in hundreds of children being separated from their parents. Speaking Thursday in Fort Wayne, Ind., Sessions pointed to a verse in the Book of Romans on obeying the laws of government, saying, “God has ordained them for the purpose of order.”
The comments came as House Speaker Paul Ryan and other Republicans said they were not comfortable with family separations, which spiked dramatically after the Justice Department adopted a policy in April of referring all illegal border crossers for prosecution.
“We don’t want kids to be separated from their parents,” Ryan said Thursday.
Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., tweeted Thursday that he told a constituent that, “I am asking the White House to keep families together as much as we can.”
In an unusually tense series of exchanges in the White House briefing room, Sanders blamed Democrats for the policy separating children from parents and wrongly insisted the administration had made no changes increasing the tactics’ use.
“The separation of illegal alien families is the product of the same legal loopholes that Democrats refuse to close and these laws are the same that have been on the books for over a decade, and the president is simply enforcing them,” she said.
Ryan and other GOP lawmakers said they are seeking to resolve the problem in a compromise immigration bill. A draft of that bill would keep children with their families while they are in Homeland Security Department custody.
Ryan claimed Thursday that the family-separation policy is being dictated by a court ruling that prevents children who enter the country illegally from being held in custody for long periods.
But House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi pushed back on that assessment, saying that President Donald Trump could “stop the practice on a dime.”
Demonstrators line up to protest U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and immigration reform at Parkview Field in Fort Wayne, Ind., on Thursday.