Attorney General Jeff Sessions joked about family separations during a speaking event in Los Angeles on Tuesday, just days after the Trump administration retreated from its policy of separating migrant children from their parents at the U.S. border.
Sessions, speaking at an event for the conservative Criminal Justice Legal Foundation, defended the Justice Department’s zero tolerance immigration policy meant to prosecute as many people as possible for illegally crossing the border. Despite widespread criticism of the policy, Sessions lambasted the “radicalized” left and joked that those attacking the policy were hypocrites who would gladly separate families that infiltrated their “gated communities.”
“We hear views on television today that are on the lunatic fringe, frankly. And what is perhaps more galling is the hypocrisy,” Sessions said during his prepared remarks. “These same people live in gated communities, many of them, and are featured at events where you have to have an ID to even come in and hear them speak.”
He continued: “They like a little security around themselves. And if you try to scale their fence, believe me, they’ll be only too happy to have you arrested and separated from your children.”
The quip sparked some laughter in the venue as the attorney general went on to chastise the “so-called elites.”
“They want borders in their lives, but not yours and not the American people’s lives,” Sessions continued. “And that’s why the American people are sick of the lip service and the hypocrisy. They are sick of the politicians who abandon their promises as soon as the mainstream media criticizes them. They’ve seen it for decades. And now they are supporting a president who is on their side.”
Sessions and others in the Trump administration have defended the new border policy in recent weeks even as thousands of children were taken from their parents and placed in migrant shelters.
Bowing to public pressure, however, President Donald Trump issued an executive order meant to end the separations last week, and Customs and Border Protection said it would temporarily stop detaining migrant families as it was running out of detention space to house them.
A federal judge on Tuesday also ordered the White House to reunite all remaining migrant children with their families within 14 to 30 days.