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Methodists, prosecutors scold AG Sessions over border policy

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaks on immigration policy and law enforcement actions at Lackawanna College in downtown Scranton Pa. on Friday

US Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Monday that US policy to separate illegal immigrant children from their families is aimed at ending "lawlessness" at the border.

Sessions was speaking Monday in New Orleans at the National Sheriff's Association conference. That means children must be taken from their parents at the border because children can't be sent to jail.

"What's happening on the border is having a direct impact on what's happening in New Jersey", New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said in a statement.

The letter says the policy would be "illegal under most state laws" and claims it directly interferes with the jobs of local, national and worldwide law enforcement officials.

"Put simply, the deliberate separation of children and their parents who seek lawful asylum in America is wrong", the letter states.

Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ 6th distirct) talks about visiting five immigrant detainees being detained at the Elizabeth Detention Center on Sunday, June 17, 2018.

This comes less than a week after Sessions defended the administration's zero-tolerance policy at the border by saying, "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 them for the objective of order".

In a statement, Swanson, who is also a DFL candidate for governor, reiterated her opposition to the policy, which has resulted in almost 2,000 children being separated from their parents since April.

President Donald Trump has repeated a false claim the policy is a result of standing immigration law, an excuse the letter sharply rejects and urges Trump to fix.

Trump's order said the government would maintain a "zero tolerance" policy toward those who break the law, but the senior USA official, asked to explain how the government would change enforcement practices, said Border Patrol agents were instructed Wednesday evening to stop sending parents with children to federal courthouses for prosecution.

While layman in the Methodist denomination does not typically have charges brought against them in this manner, Sessions' unique position of power has motivated those in his denomination to take action.

Hunton & Williams partner Tim Heaphy, a former USA attorney for the Western District of Virginia who helped organize the letter, said Tuesday it was unusual for former US attorneys to speak out on administration policies, but noted there was bipartisan consensus on the issue.

"We don't want to separate families, but we don't want families to come to the border illegally and attempt to enter into this country improperly", he said in May.

Beyond that, referencing their collective background expertise, the letter points out that no prior administration of either party has implemented such a blanket policy that ignores the necessary balance of "effective enforcement and deterrence with humanity and compassion".

When he announced the policy's implementation, Sessions noted it would likely deter migrants from trying to cross into the country.

"And hopefully change his heart and lead him to not just stop doing what he is doing, but to change that and do what is right", Wright said.

"It is painful", Sessions said.

"As a father, it is unthinkable that our government would forcibly and unnecessarily pull children away from their parents", said Attorney General Becerra.

The church's complaint charged that Sessions violated the United Methodist Church's book of Discipline as well as its code of laws and social principles.

"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 said in a speech to law enforcement officers in Fort Wayne, Ind., according to The Washington Post.