On MSNBC’s Monday evening broadcast of “All In with Chris Hayes,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) appeared on the show to promote new legislation that would stop the Trump Administration from separating illegal alien families. During the segment, the longtime California senator confirmed that her bill would do so in part by broadly forbidding the arrest of illegal immigrants within 100 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border, even for serious crimes not directly related to their illegal migration.
In order to justify such broad prohibitions against enforcing the law, Feinstein compared the Trump administration’s current policy of arresting illegal immigrants and not putting their claimed children alongside them in prisons as something that “Nazi Germany” would do. The senator and MSNBC host Chris Hayes also accused the Trump administration of using the illegal immigrant children as “hostages” to get the Democrats to give into Republicans’ terroristic “demands.”
During the segment, Feinstein also praised former First Lady Laura Bush’s recent op-ed in the Washington Post for expressing similar sentiments, although Bush did not go so far as to make the Nazi comparison herself, instead comparing the family separations to America’s racially-based internment of Japanese-Americans during the Second World War.
Real Clear Politics partially transcribed the MSNBC segment to give more context for the senator’s remarks [emphasis mine]:
CHRIS HAYES [MSNBC, HOST]: It seems to be that the White House quite explicitly is essentially using these children as hostages to try to get Democrats to give in to a variety of demands they have on restricting legal immigration as part of a legislative package. Is that something you're willing to entertain?
SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN [D-CA]: Well, I think that's exactly right. Of course, we're willing to entertain a legislative package if it makes sense, but don't hold children hostage. I mean you don't have to take 2,500 children from their parents to get support for something. I mean, that's bizarre.
And I -- it's hard for me to believe that even President Trump would want to do that. I -- it's just bizarre.
HAYES: Well, he pretty clearly does want to do it, at least his advisers do. I mean, you have John Kelly talking about how its a deterrent, you have Steven Miller giving on the record quotes about how it’s a deterrent, Jeff Sessions saying the Roman 13 commands us to obey the laws of man in a godly fashion.
I mean, there does seem to be a part of this administration that knows what they're doing.
FEINSTEIN: Well, this is the United States of America. It isn't Nazi Germany, and there's a difference. And we don't take children from their parents until now and I think it's such a sad day. People are so upset.
I just read a wonderful letter to the editor by Laura Bush. I can't believe that this is happening in the United States, and the president insists. So we, of course, will do everything we can to pass a bill which would prohibit this.
Sen. Feinstein did not explain why arresting criminals and not putting their children in the same prison is similar to any specific policy that Nazi Germany enforced, and MSNBC host Chris Hayes did not ask for clarification as to why Feinstein believes that Nazi death and work camps were akin to air-conditioned former Wal-Mart megastores with flat screen televisions, video games, beds with mattresses, and tai chi classes.
Moreover, contrary to what the California senior senator claimed, children are separated from their parents by the thousands in the United States every year whenever either they or their parents are arrested, tried, and convicted of crimes. This is a normal and healthy part of the justice system. Criminals are jailed and their non-criminal family members are not. This is really not that shocking or upsetting to most people.
Then again, if you don’t believe that the United States has a right to sovereign borders or illegal immigration into the U.S. should be a crime, Feinstein’s reaction is far more plausible.