On Thursday's Andrea Mitchell Reports on MSNBC, host Mitchell not only fretted that First Daughter Ivanka Trump was not doing enough to "lobby" against aggressive enforcement of immigration laws, but she also seemed taken aback that Attorney General Jeff Sessions pushed for such enforcement as a "deterrent" as if such a motivation were a scandal, even though the Barack Obama administration also pursued what it called an "aggressive deterrence policy" to ward off asylum seekers from Central America.
After playing clips of an administration official recalling that the issue of how family separations would impact children had been discussed within the administration, MItchell turned to KPBS immigration reporter Jean Guerrero and fretted: "To hear from a health official that they argued against separation only validates suspicions that what the Attorney General did in announcing this was to propose a deterrent policy. They just wanted to stop people from coming across and seeking refuge."
It would be more accurate to state that what the administration was trying to deter was people traveling across the desert with children to cross the border illegally with an expectation that they would not face aggressive prosecution if they had children with them. Legitimate asylum seekers can travel to ports of entry and avoid such prosecution and family separation.
But her suggestion that it is somehow outrageous or unprecedented to deter such behavior is also odd considering that the Obama administration openly spoke of enacting an "aggressive deterrence policy," in the words of then-Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, after thousands of Central American immigrants began flooding across the border and seeking asylum.
There were complaints from the left about President Barack Obama trying to deter asylum seekers after there was a dramatic increase in detentions after migrants started flooding into the country from Central America.
In August 2016, the Washington Post reported:
Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, who oversees ICE, heard from border patrollers that the emergency was brewing momentum. People kept coming because word was out that the United States was granting permisos to new arrivals, allowing them to walk right into the country.
According to lawmakers and administration officials, Johnson determined that the United States could cut down the surge only by demonstrating that asylum seekers wouldn't receive leniency. Johnson won approval from the White House to explore ramping up family detention for asylum seekers on a scale never before seen in America, part of what he called an "aggressive deterrence strategy."
The left-wing The Nation also complained about President Obama deporting asylum seekers as a deterrent.
Additionally, the denial rate of asylum claims has been increasing for several years since during the Obama administration, and, for Central American immigrants, has tended to be around 75 to 80 percent.
Back to Andrea Mitchell Reports, a bit later in the segment, after playing a clip of Ivanka Trump speaking negatively of the family separations, the MSNBC host followed up by complaining: "It's very interesting that she would say that because the next followup question would be: What have you done to argue against it inside the White House?"