Attorney General Jeff Sessions criticized the growing number of public comparisons between the Trump administration’s new immigration policies and Nazi Germany, saying that such claims are not true because the Nazis were “keeping the Jews from leaving the country.”
More than 2,000 children have been separated from their parents at border crossings and placed in detention centers, according to the Department of Homeland Security. But even as Holocaust survivors as well as Democratic politicians drew parallels between World War II and today, Sessions rejected the comparison in an interview on Fox News on Monday.
“Well, it’s a real exaggeration, of course. In Nazi Germany, they were keeping the Jews from leaving the country,” Sessions said. “We need to think it through, be rational and thoughtful about it. 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’s claim that the Nazis kept the Jews from leaving elides the fact that the Nazis did deport roughly 17,000 Jews from Germany to Poland in 1938, and that they contemplated forcibly moving the entire European Jewish population to Madagascar.
Sessions went on to admit that the point of the new policy was to deter further illegal immigration.
“I see that the fact that no one was being prosecuted for this as a factor in a five-fold increase in four years in this kind of illegal immigration,” he said. “So, yes, hopefully, people will get the message and come through the border at the port of entry, and not break across the border unlawfully.”