- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 14, 2018

Biblical teachings, the U.S. southern border and the listening comprehension skills of CNN’s Jim Acosta all converged into a single debate this week during a White House press briefing.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and CNN’s chief White House correspondent got into a testy exchange on Thursday over the incarceration of illegal immigrants crossing into the U.S. from Mexico. At issue were comments by Attorney General Jeff Sessions on “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.”

“The attorney general said today somehow … there’s a justification for this in the Bible,” Mr. Acosta said. “Where does it say in the Bible that it’s moral to take children away from their mothers?”

Mrs. Sanders, despite the reporter’s vagueness about the Bible verse being quoted, accurately predicted Mr. Sessions’ context when challenged on the issue.

“I’m not aware of the attorney general’s comments or what he would be referencing,” Mrs. Sanders replied. “I can say that it is very biblical to enforce the law. That is actually repeated a number of time throughout the Bible.”

“But where in the Bible does it say it’s OK to take children away from their parents?” the reporter countered. “You just said that it’s in the Bible to follow the law.”

Mrs. Sanders, seemingly frustrated with Mr. Acosta’s demand to talk about specifics instead of broader biblical principles, shot back: “That’s not what I said. I know it’s hard for you to understand even short sentences I guess, but please don’t take my words out of context.”

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The press secretary went on to blame Democrats for making an issue out of laws that were in place during the Obama administration.

“These laws are the same that have been on the books for over a decade and the president is simply enforcing them,” she said. “It’s a moral policy to follow and enforce the law. … 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 their job and fix the problem.”

Mr. Sessions told an audience of law enforcement officials in Indiana on Thursday that the current border dispute is a non-issue because children are usually reunited with parents within three weeks.

“We are not sending children to jail with their parents,” the attorney general said. “Noncitizens who cross our borders unlawfully, between our ports of entry, with children are not an exception. They are the ones who broke the law. They are the ones who endangered their own children on their trek. The United States, on the other hand, goes to extraordinary lengths to protect them while the parents go through a short detention period.”

• Douglas Ernst can be reached at dernst@washingtontimes.com.

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