'Don't you have empathy?': Sarah Huckabee Sanders grilled over migrant children in tense briefing

Sanders says administration is focused on enforcing the law, 'something that was not high on the priority list of the previous administration but it is on ours'

Jeremy B. White
San Francisco
Thursday 14 June 2018 21:11 BST
CNN political analyst Brian Karem presses White House press secretary Sarah Sanders on family separations at the US-Mexico border

A reporter accused White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders of lacking empathy despite being a mother during a tense exchange about the Trump administration’s practice of separating migrant children from their families.

“Come on Sarah, you’re a parent”, reporter Brian Karem said during a briefing. “Don’t you have any empathy for what these people are going through?”

After the Trump administration unveiled a more stringent border policy of prosecuting parents who cross the border with their children, the numbers of young migrants held in government shelters have sharply increased. A wave of press reports have detailed conditions in a converted Texas Walmart building that now houses some 1,500 boys.

“These people have nothing, they come to the border with nothing and you throw them in cages”, Mr Karem said. “You’re a parent. You’re a parent of young children. Don’t you have any empathy for what they go through?”

Refusing to directly respond, Ms Sanders chided Mr Karem for speaking out of turn and suggested his goal was to “get some more TV time”.

The exchange came after Ms Sanders deflected a reporter’s question about the Trump administration moving to increase criminal prosecutions of migrants, saying “it’s not a policy change to enforce the law” and deflecting blame to Democrats whom she blamed for stymieing immigration legislation.

“Our administration has had the same position since we started on day one that we were going to enforce the law”, Ms Sanders said. “I know it was something that was not high on the priority list of the previous administration but it is on ours”.

It was not the first time Ms Sanders’ status as a parent of three has come up during a White House briefing.

Sarah Sanders struggles to respond to boy's question about mass shootings at White House press conference

Earlier this month, Ms Sanders visibly choked back tears after a boy reporting for youth publication Time for Kids asked her about preventing school violence and said he and his friends worried about being shot at school.

“As a parent, there is nothing that could be more terrifying [than] for a kid to go to school and not feel safe, so I’m sorry you feel that way”, Ms Sanders told 3-year-old California student named Benje Choucroun.

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