Sessions on separating families: If we build a wall and pass legislation, we won't have these 'terrible choices'

Sessions on separating families: If we build a wall and pass legislation, we won't have these 'terrible choices'
© Greg Nash

Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsRosenstein faces Trump showdown Solicitor general could take over Mueller probe if Rosenstein exits 13 states accepted Sessions invitation to meeting on social media bias: report MORE said Monday that if Congress passes legislation to build a wall on the Mexican border, the Trump administration wouldn't need its "zero tolerance" border policy that has resulted in the separation of parents from their children.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpHouse Republican threatens to push for Rosenstein impeachment unless he testifies Judge suggests Trump’s tweet about Stormy Daniels was ‘hyperbole’ not defamation Rosenstein faces Trump showdown MORE has said this cannot continue. We do not want to separate parents from their children," Sessions told the National Sheriffs' Association annual conference on Monday.

"If we build the wall, if we pass legislation to end the lawlessness, we won’t face these terrible choices.”

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The administration is embroiled in a growing controversy and political crisis over the policy, which has been panned by figures in both parties.

The policy has allowed thousands of migrant children to be separated from their parents as the adults are prosecuted separately.

Stories of parents sent back to their home countries with little contact with their children and images of crying children have raised public attention to the issue. But President Trump has shown no signs of shifting and has sought to blame Democrats over his own administration's policy.

Sessions defended the policies in his remarks.

“We will have a system where those who need to apply for asylum can do so and those who want to come to this country will apply legally. The American people are generous people who want our laws enforced. That is what we intend to do, and we ask Congress to be our partners in this effort,” he said.

When he announced the policy, Sessions noted it would likely lead to more separations but said the policy would help deter more migrants from trying to cross the southern border.

During his speech on Monday, Sessions said that the Trump administration is “dedicated to caring for children” but added that it “will not encourage people to bring children by giving them blanket immunity from our laws.”

“We have a generous, lawful system that admits over a million people a year with legal status,” Sessions said. “But when we ignore our laws at the border we obviously encourage hundreds of thousands of people a year to likewise ignore our laws and illegally enter our country, creating an enormous burden on our law enforcement, our schools, our hospitals, and social programs.”