White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said it was “biblical” for President Donald Trump’s administration to enforce federal law in a way that separates children from their families at the border when they illegally enter the US.
Sanders, speaking at the White House press briefing Thursday, was pressed by CNN’s Jim Acosta on whether she agreed with Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ assertion that the Bible requires the Trump administration to follow the law.
“I would cite you to the Apostle Paul and his clear and wise command in Romans 13 to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained the government for his purposes,” Sessions had said earlier Thursday. “Orderly and lawful processes are good in themselves. Consistent, fair application of law is in itself a good and moral thing and that protects the weak, it protects the lawful.”
CNN reported in May that the Trump administration had decided to refer anyone found crossing into the US illegally for federal prosecution, meaning that adults coming across the border with children will be separated from them as the parents await their criminal proceedings.
When asked by Acosta where the Bible says it is moral to separate children from their families, Sanders said it was “biblical to enforce the law.”
“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,” she said.
Acosta pressed Sanders on whether the administration’s policy was in the Bible and the press secretary took a personal shot at him.
“That’s not what I said. I know it’s hard for you to understand even short sentences, I guess, but please don’t take my words out of context,” she said.
“The separation of illegally alien families is the product of the same legal loopholes the Democrats refuse to close, and these laws are the same that have been on the books for over a decade, and the President is simply enforcing them.”
Sanders then blamed Democrats for the law that has been used to justify the policy. The law, passed in 2008 when Democrats controlled the House and signed by Republican then-President George W. Bush, doesn’t deal with children who are illegally crossing the border with their parents but with children who are illegally crossing alone.
“The President has actually called on Democrats in Congress to fix those loopholes – the Democrats have failed to come to the table, failed to help this President close these loopholes and fix this problem,” she said. “We don’t want this to be a problem. The President has tried to address it on a number of occasions - we’ve laid out a proposal and Democrats simply refuse to do their job and fix the problem.”
CNN’s Tal Kopan contributed to this article.