WASHINGTON D.C. — Attorney General Sessions has been invited to visit the U.S.-Mexico border by Senator Jeff Merkley and a congressional delegation, according to a statement from Merkley's office.
on June 4, Merkley visited a facility in Texas where migrant children were allegedly being held. In a well-publicized Facebook Live video, Merkley is seen being refused entry by staff of the facility before police are called to the scene.
In an interview with conservative talkshow host Hugh Hewitt, Sessions was asked if he would be willing to talk to Merkley about a joint visit to those facilities near the border. Sessions said that he and Merkley "get along well," and that "he'd be glad to talk to [Merkley] about it."
According to the statement from Merkley's office, that interview prompted the Oregon Senator to call Sessions on Thursday morning. However, Sessions cited "scheduling conflicts," and said that he would not be present for Merkley's congressional delegation to the border, which is planned for Father's Day, June 17.
Reportedly, Merkley also grilled Sessions over the policy of separating migrant parents from their children and detaining the children in secure facilities as a method of deterrence.
“This intentional strategy of inflicting harm on children to deter adults somewhere else in the world from seeking asylum in the U.S. is completely wrong and unacceptable," said Merkley. "There is no moral or religious code anywhere in the world that condones hurting children to influence adults. This needs to end.”
According to the Associated Press, Sessions cited the Bible in defense of the Justice Department policy in a speech 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 them for the purpose of order," he said. "Orderly and lawful processes are good in themselves and protect the weak and lawful."
In a local connection, protesters gathered in downtown Medford on Thursday afternoon to blast the Justice Department's policy, holding signs in front of the Collier Center on S Central Ave. The protest was led by the Oregon District 2 chapter of activist group Indivisible.