Sessions: Migrants shouldn't ‘recklessly’ bring children across border if they don't want to be separated

Sessions: Migrants shouldn't ‘recklessly’ bring children across border if they don't want to be separated
© Greg Nash

Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsLaura Bush blasts Trump migrant policy as 'cruel' and 'immoral' Merkley leads Dem lawmakers to border amid migrant policy outcry DHS secretary defends Trump administration's migrant policies MORE on Tuesday defended the Trump administration's policy of separating migrant children from their families, arguing that the measure promotes border security and that the children are "well taken care of."

In an interview with conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt, Sessions criticized those who "recklessly and improperly" cross the border with children in tow.

"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," Sessions said.

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"And you can’t be giving immunity to people who bring children with them recklessly and improperly and illegally," he continued. "You have to — you will be prosecuted if you bring, if you come illegally. And if you bring children, you’ll still be prosecuted."

Sessions said he has not visited any of the facilities where migrant children are being held, noting that they fall under the jurisdiction of the Departments of Health and Human Services and Homeland Security.

The Trump administration recently implemented a “zero tolerance” policy for those who cross the U.S.-Mexico border illegally. The Justice Department and Department of Homeland Security have said they will separate children from their parents in some cases.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpEx-ethics chief calls on Trump to end 'monstrous' migrant policies Laura Bush blasts Trump migrant policy as 'cruel' and 'immoral' US denies report of coalition airstrike on Syria MORE has on multiple occasions blamed Democrats for the policy, despite the call to enforce it coming from his administration.

The policy has drawn fierce criticism from Democrats and immigration advocates. The United Nations human rights office on Tuesday called for the U.S. to "immediately halt" the practice.

Hewitt pressed Sessions on the policy repeatedly, arguing that infants and toddlers in particular should not be separated from their parents.

Sessions said the children are being "properly taken care of," but told Hewitt that the law requires children be separated from their parents.

"The only thing we can do about this, and certainly, we prefer to keep the children close by," Sessions said. "And if we have a prompt hearing, as we do in many cases, they go back home with their children."

Hewitt then appealed to Sessions to visit one of the facilities housing the migrant children, but Sessions did not commit to doing so.

"Well, we’ll look forward to that opportunity, but we are trying to get this law enforcement matter settled, and we’re trying to end the lawlessness at the border," he said.