Three reporters push back on Sarah Sanders' lie that it is simply “following the law” to separate immigrant families

CBS' Paula Reid: “There is no law that requires families be separated at the border. This was the administration's choice”

From the June 14 White House press briefing:

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JIM ACOSTA (CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT): On these children who are being separated from their families as they come across the border, the attorney general earlier today said that somehow there's a justification for this in the Bible. Where does it say in the Bible that it's moral to take children away from their mothers? 

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS (WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY): I'm not aware of the attorney general's comments or what he would be referencing. I can say that it is very biblical to enforce the law. That is actually repeated a number of times throughout the Bible. However -- hold on, Jim, if you'd let me finish. I'm not going to comment on the attorney's specific comments that I haven't seen. 


ACOSTA: How is it a moral policy to take children away from their parents?

SANDERS: It's a moral policy to follow and enforce the law.

ACOSTA: Can you imagine the horror these children must be going through? When they come across the border, they're with their parents, and then suddenly they're pulled away from their parents? Why is the government doing this? 

SANDERS: Because it's the law, and that's what the law states.

ACOSTA: It's not. It doesn't have to be the law. You guys don't have to do that. 

SANDERS: You're right. It doesn't have to be the law, and the president has actually called on Democrats in Congress to fix those loopholes.


PAULA REID (CBS NEWS CORRESPONDENT): First of all, there is no law that requires families be separated at the border. This was the administration's choice to move from civil matters on immigration to criminal, criminally prosecute people who come across the border illegally, and therefore you have to separate families. So why did the administration find that this was necessary? And if it continues to not have much of a deterrent effect, will you continue this policy?

SANDERS: Again, the laws are the ones that have been on the books for over a decade, and the president is enforcing them. We would like to fix the broken system and fix our immigration problem. However, until Democrats are willing to actually fix this problem, it's going to continue. But we would like to see it fixed. 

REID: This administration doesn't want to take responsibility for its policy change from handling them as civil matters to criminal prosecutions.

SANDERS: It's not a policy change to enforce the law. That's been this administration's policy since the day we got here. 

REID: No. Jeff Sessions made a decision in April that he was going to move from handling it from a civil matter to criminal.

SANDERS: It has been our administration's policies -- 

REID: Your administration said it was a deterrent. They're separating families to deter people from coming here illegally. 


BRIAN KAREM (EXECUTIVE EDITOR OF THE MONTGOMERY COUNTY SENTINEL): Don't you have any empathy? Come on, Sarah, you're a parent. Don't you have any empathy for what these people are going through? They have less than you do. 

SANDERS: Brian. God. Settle down.

KAREM: Seriously. Seriously. 

SANDERS: I'm trying to be serious, but I'm not going to have you yell out of turn. 

KAREM: You're telling us it's the law. These people have nothing. They come over here with nothing. 

SANDERS: Hey, Brian, I know you want to get some more TV time, but that's not what this is about.

KAREM: It's not about that. It's about you answering the question, Sarah. Honestly, answer the question. It's a serious question. These people have nothing, they come to the border with nothing, and they throw children in cages. You're a parent. You're a parent of young children. Don't you have any empathy for what they go through?


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