The Thursday White House press briefing with WH's Sarah Huckabee Sanders got heated several times when reporters grilled her on the child separation policy for migrants seeking asylum. Sanders received heated rhetoric from Brian Karem, the White House correspondent for Playboy and Tribune publications, who reminded Sanders that she is a parent herself. Sanders also tussled with CNN's Jim Acosta and admonished him.
"Honestly, answer the question. It’s a serious question. These people have nothing. They come to the border with nothing and you 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?" Karem asked Sanders.
Karem became emotional and appealed to Sarah Huckabee Sanders as a mother of children:
BRIAN KAREM: Two questions. First of all, there is not law that requires families to be separated at the border. This was the administration’s choice to move from civil matters on immigration on to criminal, to 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?
SARAH HUCKABEE 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 that our immigration — 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.
Q But isn’t the administration — it doesn’t want to take responsibility for its policy change from civil — handling them as civil matters to criminal prosecutions.
SANDERS: It’s not a policy change to enforce the law.
Q It absolutely is. Sessions made a change.
SANDERS: That’s been this administration’s policy since the day we got here.
Q No. Jeff Sessions made a decision in April that he was going to move from handling it as a civil matter to criminal, and then separating the families.
SANDERS: It has been our administration’s policy —
Q Your own administration said it was deterrent. They’re separating families to deter people from coming here illegally.
SANDERS: Our administration has had the same position since we started on day one that we were going to enforce the law. I know it was something that wasn’t high on the priority list in the previous administration, but it is on ours. We’re a country of law and order, and we’re enforcing the law and protecting our borders.
We would like to fix these loopholes, and if Democrats want to get serious about it, instead of playing political games, they’re welcome to come here and sit down with the President and actually do something about it.
Q Sarah. Sarah, don’t you have any empathy?
SANDERS: Jill, go ahead.
Q Come on, Sarah. You’re a parent. Don’t you have any empathy for what these people are going through?
Q They have less than you do.
SANDERS: Brian. Guys, settle down.
Q Sarah, come on. Seriously. Seriously.
SANDERS: I’m trying to be serious, but I’m not going to have you yell out of turn.
Jill, please —
Q But you’re sitting there telling us it’s a law. And they have — 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.
Q It’s not that. It’s not about that. It’s about you answering a question, Sarah.
SANDERS: I want to recognize you. Go ahead, Jill.
Q Honestly, answer the question. It’s a serious question. These people have nothing. They come to the border with nothing and you 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?
SANDERS: Jill, go ahead.
Sanders vs. CNN's Jim Acosta:
JIM ACOSTA, CNN: Can I just ask a second question, completely unrelated, 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: I’m not aware of the Attorney General’s comments or what he would be referencing. I can’t —
Q Is it a moral policy, in your view?
SANDERS: I can say that it is very biblical to enforce the law. That is, actually, repeated a number of times throughout the Bible. However, this —
Q But where in the Bible does it say —
SANDERS: Hold on, Jim. If you’ll let me finish.
Q — it’s okay to take children away from their parents?
SANDERS: Again, I’m not going to comment on the Attorney’s specific comments that I haven’t seen.
Q You just said it’s in the Bible to follow the law.
SANDERS: That’s not what I said. And I know it’s hard for you to understand even short sentences, I guess, but please don’t take my words out of context. But the separation of —
Q That’s a cheap shot, Sarah. That’s a cheap shot, Sarah.
SANDERS: — illegal alien families is the product of the same legal loopholes that 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.
Q But how is it moral? How is it a moral policy to take children away from their parents? Can you imagine —
SANDERS: It’s a moral policy to follow and enforce the law.
Q — the horror that these children must be going through when they come across the border?
Q 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.
Q It’s not. It doesn’t have to be the law. You guys don’t have to do that. It’s your policy.
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. The Democrats have failed to come to the table, failed to help this President close these loopholes and fix this problem. 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.