A top official at the now-defunct Immigration and Naturalization Services (INS) says that Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsLawmaker wants Chinese news outlet to register as foreign agent Trump-aligned group launches ad campaign hitting Doug Jones on impeachment ICE subpoenas Denver law enforcement: report MORE deserves to be jailed over his role in the deportations of families separated by President TrumpDonald John TrumpSchiff pleads to Senate GOP: 'Right matters. And the truth matters.' Anita Hill to Iowa crowd: 'Statute of limitations' for Biden apology is 'up' Sen. Van Hollen releases documents from GAO investigation MORE's zero tolerance immigration policy.

Paul Schmidt, who served as the agency's acting General Counsel during the early- and mid-1980s, told NBC's Katy Tur on Friday that Sessions should be held in contempt of court over the case of a migrant family that was deported even as their asylum proceedings were still ongoing.

ADVERTISEMENT

"I'm stunned, absolutely stunned," Schmidt said. "The level of disrespect for the judiciary, the unprofessionalism of the Justice Department attorneys and the just plain stupidity of the litigation strategy under Jeff Sessions is just simply stunning."

"He should be [held in contempt]," Schmidt said, responding to Tur's description of a judge's threat to hold Sessions in contempt over the deportation.

"I think Sessions definitely should be held in contempt, and ultimately he can go to jail," Schmidt added. "And that's exactly where he belongs."

U.S. District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan threatened to hold Sessions in contempt Thursday after realizing that the Trump administration had attempted to remove a woman and her daughter from the country while their appeal was ongoing.

"This is pretty outrageous,” Sullivan told U.S. attorneys, according to The Washington Post. “That someone seeking justice in U.S. court is spirited away while her attorneys are arguing for justice for her?

"I’m not happy about this at all," he said. "This is not acceptable."

A Justice Department spokesperson declined to comment on the deportation case when reached by The Hill.

“In its rush to deport as many immigrants as possible, the Trump administration is putting these women and children in grave danger of being raped, beaten, or killed,” said Jennifer Chang Newell, managing attorney of ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, in a statement.  

“We are thrilled the stay of removal was issued but sickened that the government deported two of our clients — a mom and her little girl — in the early morning hours," added Newell, who argued the case in court. "We will not rest until our clients are returned to safety.”