Accusations that child detention facilities on the US-Mexican border are similar to Nazi concentration camps were always likely to be rebuked by the White House – but perhaps no one quite expected Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ line of reasoning.
“This is a real exaggeration,” he told Fox News. “Because in Nazi Germany they were keeping the Jews from leaving the country.”
Even the avowedly conservative presenter Laura Ingraham seemed momentarily taken aback with the response, quickly moving the subject on.
Attorney General Sessions had gone live on the show to defend Donald Trump’s migration family separation policy, which has seen around 2,000 illegal immigrant children taken from their parents and placed in wire-cage holding cells.
Earlier, Democrat senator Dianne Feinstein had been among several politicians and commentators to say the actions were comparable with Hitler's Germany.
But Attorney General Sessions said: “We're doing the right thing. We're taking care of these children," adding "they are not being abused".
He said: “We have watched what happened with the Obama policies, and over years, we went from 15,000 illegal entries to 75,000. This is a huge loophole in our system that's attracting more and more people, as more and more people understand that, under previous policies, if they enter the country unlawfully, that nothing will happen.”
Under President Trump’s directions, adults crossing the border illegally are taken immediately for criminal prosecution, while children are moved separately to detainment centres where some are being held in wire cages.
Video: What's Happening to Children at Border Detention Facilities?