Sarah Huckabee Sanders cites bible as reason to detain immigrant children

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders defended the administration’s detention of nearly 1,500 immigrant children by citing the Bible.

In a series of heated exchanges between Sanders and reporters at Thursday’s press briefing, the press secretary seemed to have trouble explaining the reasoning behind the practice of separating children from their parents when they cross into the U.S. illegally.

After CNN’s Jim Acosta asked Sanders about Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ claim that separating parents from children is rooted in the Bible, Sanders said that following the law is biblical.  

“It is very biblical to enforce the law, that is actually repeated a number of times throughout the Bible,” Sanders said.

But reporters including Acosta reminded Sanders that no one was forcing the administration to hold children captive, and that there is in fact no law forcing it to separate them from their parents.

“Can you imagine the horror these kids must be going through when they come across the border?” Acosta asked. “They’re with their parents and they’re suddenly pulled away from their parents ― why is the government doing this?”

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White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders speaks during the press briefing at the White House in Washington, DC, on Octobr 30, 2017. US President Donald Trump has 'no plan or intention' to change special counsel probing possible collusion in Russia's effort to sway the 2016 presidential elections.The assurance came hours after special counsel Robert Mueller announced indictments against three Trump campaign aides, including former chairman Paul Manafort.'The president said last week and I said several times before, there is no intention or plan to make any changes in regards to the special counsel,' White House spokesman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said. / AFP PHOTO / NICHOLAS KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders delivered the press briefing in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House, on Monday, June 5, 2017. (Photo by Cheriss May/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 27: Principal Deputy White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders speaks during a White House daily briefing at the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House June 27, 2017 in Washington, DC. Huckabee Sanders stood in for Press Secretary Sean Spicer to host the daily press briefing. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders holds the daily briefing at the White House in Washington, U.S. September 12, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders (L), White House senior adviser Jared Kushner (C) and White House chief of staff John Kelly (R) look on after US President Donald Trump signed a proclamation calling for a national day of prayer on September 3 for those affected by Hurricane Harvey in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, DC, on September 1, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / NICHOLAS KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders holds a press briefing at the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., May 11, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
THE VIEW - In their first joint interview since the 2016 presidential election, Sarah Huckabee Sanders and her father, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee will appear on ABC's 'The View,' live WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 6, 2017. 'The View' airs Monday-Friday (11:00 am-12:00 pm, ET) on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Heidi Gutman/ABC via Getty Images) SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, MIKE HUCKABEE
White House deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders (L) and Thomas Homan, acting director of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE), hoold a briefing at the White House in Washington, U.S., June 28, 2017. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
Deputy White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders (L-R) holds the door for Press Secretary Sean Spicer and White House national security advisor H.R. McMaster to speak in the White House briefing room in Washington, U.S., May 16, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
White House Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders holds the daily briefing at the White House in Washington, DC, U.S. June 5, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
US Energy Secretary Rick Perry arrives to take the podium from Principal Deputy White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders at the press briefing at the White House in WQashington, DC, on June 27, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / NICHOLAS KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
(l-r), White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders looks on, while Scott Pruitt, EPA Administrator, delivered the press briefing in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House, on Monday, June 5, 2017. (Photo by Cheriss May/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
White House Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders speaks during the daily press briefing in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House in Washington, DC, May 10, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 9: White House deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders speaks to reporters outside the West Wing after President Donald J. Trump terminated FBI Director James Comey, at the White House in Washington, DC on Tuesday, May 09, 2017. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 10: Reporters and members of the media as questions as Deputy White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders speaks during the daily briefing at the White House in Washington, DC on Wednesday, May 10, 2017. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 11: White House deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, speaks during press briefing on May 11, 2017 in Washington, DC. Sanders fielded questions about President Trump's firing of FBI Director James Comey. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders holds the daily briefing at the White House in Washington, U.S., October 10, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders holds the daily briefing at the White House in Washington, U.S., October 20, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 19: White House Chief of Staff John Kelly (L) waits to speak as press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders introduces him during a White House briefing October 19, 2017 in Washington, DC. Kelly spoke about the process of the military notifying family members of a death, his own son's death Afghanistan, and the controversy surrounding the news of U.S. President Trump's phone calls to Gold Star families. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
White House Press Secretary Sarah H. Sanders takes questions during a briefing at the White House October 6, 2017 in Washington, DC. / AFP PHOTO / Brendan Smialowski (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 05: White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders answers questions during a briefing at the White House October 5, 2017 in Washington, DC. Sanders responded to a number of questions related to the recent shooting in Las Vegas, and U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Sarah Huckabee Sanders, White House press secretary, takes questions during a White House press briefing in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Friday, Oct. 6, 2017. President�Donald Trump�and his spokeswoman on Friday repeatedly declined to clarify the cryptic remark�he made while posing for photos with military leaders that the gathering might represent 'the calm before the storm.' Photographer: Chris Kleponis/Bloomberg via Getty Images
White House Press Secretary Sarah H. Sanders (L) and Homeland Security Advisor Tom Bossert talk outside the White House September 11, 2017 in Washington, DC. / AFP PHOTO / Brendan Smialowski (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
THE VIEW - In their first joint interview since the 2016 presidential election, Sarah Huckabee Sanders and her father, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee will appear on ABC's 'The View,' live WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 6, 2017. 'The View' airs Monday-Friday (11:00 am-12:00 pm, ET) on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Heidi Gutman/ABC via Getty Images) SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, MIKE HUCKABEE, SUNNY HOSTIN, JEDEDIAH BILA
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders holds the daily briefing at the White House in Washington, U.S. October 18, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders speaks during the press briefing at the White House in Washington, DC, on Octobr 30, 2017. US President Donald Trump has 'no plan or intention' to change special counsel probing possible collusion in Russia's effort to sway the 2016 presidential elections.The assurance came hours after special counsel Robert Mueller announced indictments against three Trump campaign aides, including former chairman Paul Manafort.'The president said last week and I said several times before, there is no intention or plan to make any changes in regards to the special counsel,' White House spokesman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said. / AFP PHOTO / NICHOLAS KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 30: White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders answers reporters' questions during a news conference in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House October 30, 2017 in Washington, DC. Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and his ex-business partner Rick Gates turned themselves in to federal authorities Monday in relation to the special counsel's investigation into Russian influence in the 2016 election. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 30: White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders answers reporters' questions during a news conference in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House October 30, 2017 in Washington, DC. Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and his ex-business partner Rick Gates turned themselves in to federal authorities Monday in relation to the special counsel's investigation into Russian influence in the 2016 election. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
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“Because it’s the law and that’s what the law states,” Sanders responded.

“It doesn’t have to be the law. You don’t have to do that,” Acosta said.

On Wednesday, reporters were allowed for the first time to see a Texas facility housing nearly 1,500 immigrant children separated from their parents by the U.S. government. MSNBC reporter Jacob Soboroff said the children ― many of whom have been detained for months ― are essentially in a prison.

“I kid you not, one of the first things an employee of the shelter said to me is, when we walked inside, ‘Can you try to smile at these kids, because it’s weird to see people from the outside.’” Soboroff said on MSNBC. He recalled the employee adding: “They feel like animals locked up in cages being looked at.”

During Thursday’s exchanges, reporter Brian Karem attempted to access Sander’s empathetic side.

“You’re a parent, don’t you have any empathy?” Karem asked. “Come on, Sarah, you’re a parent. Don’t you have any empathy for what these people are going through? They have less than you do. Seriously, Sarah, seriously. These people have nothing.”

Sanders deflected the question by claiming Karem was simply looking for “more TV time.”

  • This article originally appeared on HuffPost.
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