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Sessions says comparing separated children's quarters to Nazi Germany is an "exaggeration"

Attorney General Jeff Sessions called comparisons made between Nazi Germany and the federal government's treatment of migrant children separated from their parents at the border an "exaggeration" during an interview Monday night. And Fox News host Laura Ingraham quoted a description of the centers where migrant children are being held as being like "summer camps" or "boarding schools."

Ingraham asked the nation's chief law enforcement officer to respond to his critics' comparisons between Nazi German's treatment of Jews, and the facilities where the federal government is housing children separated from their parents. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and former CIA director Michael Hayden, among others, have suggested some parallels between the present situation and Nazi Germany. 

"Well it's a real exaggeration," Sessions responded on "The Ingraham Angle." "Of course, in Nazi Germany, they were keeping the Jews from leaving the country. But this is a serious matter. We need to think it through, be rational and thoughtful about it." 

Ingraham, in describing one facility that is housing migrant children, said on her show, "More kids are being separated from their parents and temporarily housed in what are essentially summer camps -- or as The San Diego Union Tribune described them today -- as basically looking like boarding schools."

But others, like Dr. Colleen Kraft, the president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, offered a different view

At a Texas facility she visited, Kraft described seeing "very quiet" toddlers and one young girl under 2 years old "who was just sobbing and wailing and beating her little fists on the mat."

"I was told that you couldn't comfort or hold a crying child," Kraft said. "And we all knew that this child was crying because she wanted her mother, and we couldn't give that to her."

Sessions' zero-tolerance policy of illegal border crossings and the decision to treat those crossings as criminal offenses has separated at least 2,000 children from their parents since April, and the White House has declined so far to stop separating minors and their parents. The separations, and images of the children's living conditions, has sparked outrage on both sides of the aisle, and even Sessions' own church issued church charges against the decision.

Mr. Trump has demanded that Congress "CHANGE THE LAWS" to fix the immigration problem, but so far the White House has not said whether Mr. Trump will sign a stand-alone bill to fix the issue, introduced by members of his own party. Mr. Trump meets with House Republicans on Capitol Hill to discuss immigration later this afternoon. 

Asked if Mr. Trump would consider a stand-alone bill to fix the family separation issue — the president and administration have insisted a full overhaul of immigration that includes border wall funding is necessary — White House adviser Mercedes Schlapp said, "I think you know the president is meeting today with the House Conference. I think that will be a lot of the discussion."

  • Kathryn Watson

    Kathryn Watson is a politics reporter for CBS News Digital.