In a heated exchange Thursday, CNN contributor and reporter Brian Karem accused White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders of lacking “empathy” for the children of illegal immigrants.
“These people have nothing. They come to the border with nothing, and you throw children in cages,” Karem said.
“You’re a parent. You’re a parent of young children. Don’t you have any empathy for what they go through?”
Sanders responded by telling Karem to “settle down,” adding “I’m trying to be serious, but I’m not going to have you yell out of turn.”
After announcing a “zero tolerance policy” in regard to separating children from their parents at the border last month, Attorney General Jeff Sessions told a group of Indiana law enforcement officers Thursday that the separation was not “unusual or unjustified.”
“If you cross the Southwest border unlawfully, then the Department of Homeland Security will arrest you and the Department of Justice will prosecute you. That is what the law calls for — and that is what we are going to do.”
“Having children does not give you immunity from arrest and prosecution,” he added.
The children Karem referred to in his exchange with Sanders are being held in Brownsville, Texas inside a refurbished Wal-Mart Super Center that is operated by Southwest Key, a nonprofit group.
However, NPR reported that the migrants who are mostly boys aged 10 to 17, do not seem unhappy.
Southwest Key spokesperson Alexia Rodriguez said his organization offers the children “excellent care” and that ultimately “Our goal is to reunite kids with their families.”
Sessions said the law was broken by the parents when they crossed the border illegally, therefore the Trump administration is not sending the children to jail with their parents.
“Non-citizens who cross our borders unlawfully, between our ports of entry, with children are not an exception. They are the ones who broke the law, they are the ones who endangered their own children on their trek. The United States, on the other hand, goes to extraordinary lengths to protect them while the parents go through a short detention period.”
Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, disagreed with the separation policy in a statement Wednesday, calling it “immoral.”
“Separating babies from their mothers is not the answer and is immoral,” he said.
“While protecting our borders is important, we can and must do better as a government, and as a society, to find other ways to ensure that safety."
Sessions called the remarks made by religious leaders “not fair or logical,” and cited biblical reasons for the immigration policies.
“Persons who violate the law of our nation are subject to prosecution. I would cite you the Apostle Paul and his clear and wise command in Romans 13 to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained them for the purpose of order,” he said.
“Orderly and lawful processes are good in themselves and protect the weak and lawful.”
Sanders agreed with Sessions’ comments Thursday, saying she also believes it is “very biblical to enforce the law,” adding “That is actually repeated a number of times throughout the Bible.”