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Stephen Colbert had some stronger-than-usual words for Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Thursday night’s Late Show.
Focusing the second act of his monologue on the Department of Justice’s month-old policy of separating immigrant families who enter the U.S. illegally, the late-night host called the measure “tragic” and “evil” and suggested Attorney General Jeff Sessions was a modern-day Jim Crow.
After beginning the monologue’s second act with discussion of what to get dads for Father’s Day, Colbert prefaced his conversation about the DOJ’s family immigration policy with a note about news stories on his show. “Now usually for me to talk about a news story on this show, especially a tragic one, it has to be something that everybody’s already talking about … But this story is different, because this is the conversation everyone should be having.”
Colbert then introduced Sessions as the “Attorney General and man dreaming about legally changing his name to Jim Crow” and explained the policy, introduced in early May and receiving renewed attention this month after it was reported that 1,358 children had been separated from their families at the border, and MSNBC Jacob Soboroff reported a dispatch from a facility in which children are being held.
“Now, if that sounds evil, then good news, your ears are working. Here’s the bad news. The United States? That’s you and me who are putting up with our government saying to immigrants, ‘If you come to the U.S., the worst thing imaginable will happen to you. We will take your children away from you with no guarantee you’ll see them again.’ That is using cruelty as a deterrant,” Colbert added.
The CBS host cited a Reuters report that reported government officials partially intended to deter familes from crossing the border illegally with the policy. “The other part is just recreational racism,” Colbert said. He also cited a report from The Independent stating that public defenders have claimed immigration officials are misleading families, telling them that children were being taken away for baths, in order to separate them. “Now clearly no decent human being could defend that. So Jeff Sessions did,” Colbert said.
Colbert, who is a practicing Roman Catholic and at one point taught Sunday school, particularly took issue with Sessions’ explanation of the policy using passages from the Bible on Thursday. “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 the government for his purposes,” Sessions said on Wednesday, after an American Catholic cardinal criticized the administration for its separation policy. “Orderly and lawful processes are good in themselves. Consistent, fair application of law is in itself a good and moral thing and that protects the weak, it protects the lawful. Our policies that can result in short-term separation of families are not unusual or unjustified.”
In response, Colbert shot back: “Hey, don’t bring God into this. First of all, I don’t think God picked you, because I don’t worship Vladimir Putin.” He also advised Sessions read further, to Romans 13:10, which called for people to “Love thy neighbor as thyself” and consider love “the fulfillment of the law.”
“It’s just plain wrong,” Colbert ended his speech. “So for Father’s Day call your elected representatives and demand they do something. Because I sincerely believe that it doesn’t matter who you voted for, if we let this happen in our name, we are a feckless country.” With the latter two words, Colbert was referencing Full Frontal host Samantha Bee’s controversial remark about Ivanka Trump on an episode in late May, in which she called the daughter of the president a “feckless c—.”
Watch Colbert’s entire remarks on the policy above.
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