Jeff Sessions Defends Immigrant Separation Policy Against Nazi Germany Comparisons

Nazis “were keeping the Jews from leaving the country,” the attorney general incorrectly claimed.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Monday rejected growing criticism comparing the Trump administration’s policy of separating immigrant children from their parents at the border to the practices of Nazi Germany as a “real exaggeration.” 

“Nazi Germany, concentration camps, human rights violations: What’s going on here?” Fox News’ Laura Ingraham asked Sessions, before referencing the mounting outcry from Democrats and former first ladies over the zero-tolerance policy.

“It’s a real exaggeration, of course,” Sessions responded. He then incorrectly stated that in “Nazi Germany, they were keeping the Jews from leaving the country.” (The Nazis initially attempted to expel Jews from Europe with systematic, mass deportations.) 

“We need to think it through, be rational and thoughtful about it,” he continued. “We want to allow asylum for people who qualify for it. But people who want economic migration for their personal financial benefit and what they think is their families’ benefit is not a basis for a claim of asylum.”

Sessions on Monday also confirmed that the new policy intended to send a “message” and deter people from “breaking across the border unlawfully”—just hours after Homeland Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen slammed that very notion. The remarks underscored the extraordinary level of discord among top administration officials over the immigration policy.

“I find that offensive,” Nielsen said when asked about the deterrence goal during a chaotic White House press briefing Monday. “Why would I ever create a policy that purposely does that?”

On Friday, the Department of Homeland Security reported that nearly 2,000 children have been separated from their families since last month. It’s estimated that as many as 30,000 children could be separated by the end of the summer.