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Opinion

Donald Trump Doesn’t Want to Take Credit for Separating Families, But Jeff Sessions Sure Does

On Saturday, President Donald Trump once again blamed Democrats for his administration’s policy.

“Democrats can fix their forced family breakup at the Border by working with Republicans on new legislation, for a change!” he wrote. The president previously shifted blame in more striking terms on Friday.

“The Democrats are forcing the breakup of families at the Border with their horrible and cruel legislative agenda,” he wrote.

The president is lying.

1) He seems to have forgotten that his party has a definite, if slight, majority in both houses of Congress.

2) His administration made the family separation policy a priority.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced it last month.

“If you are smuggling a child then we will prosecute you, and that child will be separated from you as required by law,” Sessions said at a speech on May 7th. “If you don’t like that, then don’t smuggle children over our border.”

There’s nothing in the law that requires this. It’s part of the Trump team’s consistent practice of going after non-dangerous undocumented immigrants. Immigration and Customs Enforcement bragged about increased non-criminal arrest rates from the beginning of this administration. This new policy on families is just another step in that process.

Of course, we cannot let ourselves have short memories about all this. By and large, the flaws in our immigration system is a bipartisan failure. President Barack Obama‘s immigration agencies separated families too, if not as a goal, then as an incidental result of their enforcement practices.

But the current administration is making a point to do this.

If Trump really thinks his separation policy is horrible and cruel, then he should have a talk with his Chief of Staff John Kelly. The former DHS Secretary downplayed the harms of this practice in an interview with NPR. Correspondent John Burnett pointed out that people called it “cruel and heartless to take a mother away from her children.”

“I wouldn’t put it quite that way,” Kelly answered. “The children will be taken care of — put into foster care or whatever.”

So much empathy or whatever.

Kelly and Sessions defended the practice as a deterrent against illegal border crossings. Homeland Security officials reportedly pushed for it. It’s their policy. It’s their decision. Other administrations didn’t make it a point to do this. The Trump team is.

The attorney general doubled down on the administration’s immigration practices on Thursday. He even named his boss.

“President Trump ran for office promising to end the illegality and to fix our system,” Sessions said. “We are carefully and lawfully stopping the abuses in our system. It is not a bad thing, but a good thing that President Trump is keeping his word. We intend to follow the mandate that he has received from the people. I embrace it.”

This is a game to them. Remember how the president handled DACA. He ended it, blamed Democrats, and used the immigrants’ lives as a bargaining chip in the legislative process. Attorney Sessions put it like this on Thursday.

“President Trump made a generous offer to the Democrats in Congress,” he said. “He offered to give DACA recipients true legal status if we can build a wall, close the loopholes, and switch from chain migration and the visa lottery to a merit-based system. The Democrats’ refusal of this offer is baffling.”

What’s baffling is that this administration is starting fires, then blaming other people for not putting these out. They’re doing it again with the family policy. Stick ’em up. Give us The Wall, and nobody gets hurt.

[Image via Win McNamee/Getty Images]

This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.

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