During separate Fox News interviews on Monday, acting ICE Director Thomas Homan and Attorney General Jeff Sessions both tried to reject comparisons between what the Trump administration is doing to undocumented immigrants — rounding them up, splitting up families, and sending them to camps — and what the Nazis did do Jews during World War II.
Each of their respective efforts to dismiss the comparisons did not turn out well.
First, Homan was asked to respond to “prominent people” who have compared “your behavior to that of the Nazis, to that during the Roosevelt administration interning the Japanese during World War II.”
Homan, without any sense of irony, responded with the same argument that was unsuccessfully used by a number of prominent Nazis during the Nuremberg trials — the so-called “Nuremberg defense” about how law enforcement officers are just following orders.
“I think it’s an insult to the brave men and women of the border patrol and ICE to call law enforcement officers Nazis. They are simply enforcing laws enacted by Congress,” Homan said.
A couple hours later, Laura Ingraham asked Sessions to respond to the same comparison.
“Nazi Germany, concentration camps, human rights violations — Laura Bush has weighed in, Michelle Obama, Rosalynn Carter, you’ve got all the first ladies going back to Eleanor Roosevelt, she’s apparently weighed in as well– [Attorney General] Sessions, what’s going on here?”
Sessions replied not by rejecting the comparison, but by pointing to a subtle distinction between what the Nazis did and what the Trump administration is doing..
“Well, it’s a real exaggeration,” he began. “Of course, in Nazi Germany, they were keeping the Jews from leaving the country, but this is a serious matter.”
The concentration camps Nazis detained Jews in were all inside the Greater Germanic Reich, which included territories occupied by the Nazis during the war, though many of them were outside of the borders of Germany.
It’s worth noting that Germans were not explicitly told by the Nazi regime that the Jews who were being sent to the concentration camps might be murdered. As the U.S. Holocaust Museum details:
The Germans attempted to disguise their intentions. They sought to portray the deportations as a “resettlement” of the Jewish population in labor camps in the “East.” In reality, the “resettlement” in the “East” became a euphemism for transport to the killing centers and mass murder.
On Monday, ProPublica published an audio recording of Central American children wailing at a detention center in Texas after they were separated from their families, while a guard taunts them. But during a press briefing a short time later, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen insisted detained kids are being treated well because detention centers have “videos” and “TVs.”