Washington: Attorney General Jeff Sessions today defended the Trump administration's crackdown on illegal immigrants, pointing out that authorities were likely to first target "criminal elements" who have entered the US unlawfully.
"I believe that everyone that enters the country unlawfully is subject to being deported; however, we don't have the ability to round up everybody and there's no plans to do that," Sessions told ABC News.
"But we're going to focus first, as the president has directed us, on the criminal element. We have got to get that under control," he said. "(But) there's no doubt the president has sympathy for young people who were brought here at early ages."
Sessions said the recent executive order of Trump, which has been successfully challenged in courts, is lawful.
"He knows the threats to this country. He is responsible for protecting America. This order is lawful," he said.
"It's within his authority constitutionally and explicit statutory authority. We're going to defend that order all the way up," Sessions said.
Sessions said his comment is not reckless.
"It's nothing reckless, it's nothing extreme about saying if someone comes through our country unlawfully and commits a crime, another crime in the country, that they should be deported. That's what the law says," he said.
"There is nothing extreme or unreasonable about that. I urge our mayors and our politicians to listen to their law officers. Let's work together, let's cooperate between the federal and state authorities, let's remove dangerous criminals from America. It only makes common sense," he said.
Sessions remarks on deportation was slammed by opposition Democratic party. "Jeff Sessions just verified Trump's radical and extreme plan to target 11 million undocumented immigrants for mass deportation," said Democratic National Committee chair Tom Perez.
"Trump and Sessions' cruel proposal to target millions of immigrants will rip apart families, deport integral members of our communities, create chaos across our country, and will take critical resources away from law enforcement. This is not who we are as a country," Perez said.