White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders got into a tense argument with reporters on Thursday, telling journalists in the briefing room that it is "very biblical to enforce the law" in response to questions about the administration's zero-tolerance immigration policy.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions cited the Bible earlier in the day to defend the administration's controversial policy, announced last month, to criminally prosecute all adults who cross the border illegally.
The policy has led to a surge in the number of children separated from their parents at the border.
"Illegal entry into the United States is a crime, as it should be," Sessions said during a speech to law enforcement officers in Fort Wayne, Ind. on Thursday. "Persons who violate the law of our nation are subject to prosecution. 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 purpose of order."
Below are the two exchanges between Sanders and reporters on immigration:
Reporter: On these children that 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?
Sanders: I'm not aware of the attorney general's comments or what he would be referencing. I can say that it is very biblical to enforce the law, that is actually repeated a number of times throughout the Bible. However-
Sanders: Hold on Jim, if you'll let me finish. Again I'm not gonna comment on the attorney [general]'s specific comments that I haven't seen-
Reporter: 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.
Reporter: That's a cheap shot. That's a cheap shot, Sarah.
Sanders: But the separation of illegal families — 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.
Reporter: You are a parent don't you have any empathy? 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.
Sanders: Jill, Brian. Guys settle down.
Reporter: Sarah come on, seriously.
Sanders: I'm trying to be serious but I'm not going to have you yell out of turn. Jill, please go ahead.
Reporter: It's a law, these people have nothing.
Sanders: Hey, seriously Brian I know you want to get more TV time but that's not what this is about, if I want to recognize you.
Reporter: It's not about that, it's about you answering the question Sarah. Honestly answer the question.
Sanders: Go ahead Jill.