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

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

White House chief of staff John KellyJohn Francis KellyMORE 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 SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsTrump reignites court fight with Ninth Circuit pick Democrats press Nadler to hold Lewandowski in contempt Pelosi: Lewandowski should have been held in contempt 'right then and there' MORE 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.”

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“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.