Administration

Kelly: It’s not cruel to separate undocumented immigrant families

White House chief of staff John Kelly defended the Trump administration's new "zero tolerance" policy on border-crossing immigrants, pushing back on accusations that separating immigrant families is "cruel."

Attorney General Jeff Sessions enacted the new "zero-tolerance" policy earlier this week, which calls for more prosecution of immigrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border illegally, while acknowledging the policy would separate more families.

NPR's John Burnett asked Kelly in a new interview about criticisms of the new policy, specifically that "people say that's cruel and heartless to take a mother away from her children."

"I wouldn't put it quite that way," Kelly responded. "The children will be taken care of - put into foster care or whatever. But the big point is they elected to come illegally into the United States and this is a technique that no one hopes will be used extensively or for very long."

Kelly said that family separation would be a "tough deterrent" for asylum seekers.

Kelly also said in the interview that a vast majority of immigrants in the United States illegally would not "integrate well" into society because they are "overwhelmingly rural" and unskilled.

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