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.


Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend