The Slatest

Jeff Sessions Now Says the Administration “Never Really Intended” to Separate Families. Liar Liar Liar!

Sessions delivering a speech while standing by a border guard near what appears to be a fence.
Jeff Sessions delivering a speech in which he literally told prospective undocumented border crossers, using the second person, that they would be separated from their families if they came to the U.S. Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images

Attorney general Jeff Sessions tried to do some cleanup on the administration’s unpopular and maybe-disavowed family separation policy in a Thursday interview with Christian broadcaster CBN. Here’s one of the things he said:

It hasn’t been good and the American people don’t like the idea that we are separating families. We never really intended to do that. What we intended was to make sure that adults who bring children into the country are charged with the crime that they have committed.



• In March 2017, CNN’s Wolf Blitzer asked White House chief of staff John Kelly, who was then running the Department of Homeland Security, if DHS was considering a policy that would “separate the children from their moms and dads” at the border. Kelly said that DHS was “considering exactly that” in order to deter other potential undocumented crossings.


• In May 2018, Kelly was asked during an NPR interview if he supported the now-imminent plan to prosecute all border-crossers in such a way that would separate children from their parents. He answered affirmatively, noting that “the laws are the laws” and “a big name of the game is deterrence.” His interviewer responded that “family separation stands as a pretty tough deterrent,” to which Kelly then said that it would indeed “be a tough deterrent” and would create “a much faster turnaround on asylum seekers.”


• On a media call in June, a Health and Human Services official reiterated the administration expected and hoped that family separation would result in a deterrence effect.

And, of course, there was the time on May 7 when attorney general Jeff Sessions literally stood in front of a fence at the California-Mexico border and pretended to talk directly to potential undocumented border-crossers in a speech:

I have put in place a “zero tolerance” policy for illegal entry on our Southwest border. If you cross this border unlawfully, then we will prosecute you. It’s that simple. If you smuggle illegal aliens across our border, then we will prosecute you. If you are smuggling a child, then we will prosecute you and that child will be separated from you as required by law.

Incidentally, according to DHS’ own numbers, groups that include suspected smugglers make up 0.61 percent of the family units apprehended at the border. (The separation policy Sessions was announcing, of course, applied to all family units.)

In summary, a politician is being dishonest!