As fury grows over the Trump administration’s family separation policy, Attorney General Jeff Sessions—one of the main architects of the policy—appeared on Laura Ingraham’s Fox News show on Monday night to defend the White House. There, he insisted to his decision to rip apart families and jail children is totally, completely, wildly different from Nazi Germany’s policy of, well, doing the same thing.
“Well, it’s a real exaggeration, of course,” Sessions insisted, after Ingraham played him footage of people criticizing his policy. “In Nazi Germany, they were keeping the Jews from leaving the country.”
In fact, the Nazi government was extremely eager for Jews to leave Germany. It sent millions of Jews to other European territories under its control and drew up extensive plans for further mass deportations—most infamously with the proposed “Madagascar plan” to force Jews to resettle off the coast of Africa—before abandoning them and implementing its Final Solution of extermination in the death camps. The United States itself had an opportunity to rescue an estimated 20,000 Jewish refugees—all children— during the early years of the Nazi regime. That plan was scuttled by a nativist and anti-Semitic backlash.
Sessions went on to contradict claims made earlier that day by Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kristjen Nielsen, who emphatically insisted that the policy of separating children and parents was definitely not intended to be a deterrent to other immigrants.
“Are you considering this a deterrent?” Ingraham asked Sessions.
“Yes,” he answered.