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WATCH: Jeff Sessions says no one wants to split families

WASHINGTON — Attorney General Jeff Sessions says law enforcement officials do not want to separate parents from their children.

Sessions was speaking Monday in New Orleans at the National Sheriff’s Association conference. He says enforcing immigration laws that result in the separation of children from parents is necessary.

There is no law that mandates the separation of children from parents at the U.S border. The separations are a result of the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy that was rolled out weeks ago.

Sessions in April announced a zero-tolerance policy where anyone coming across the border will be prosecuted. That means children must be taken from their parents at the border because children can’t be sent to jail. He says without enforcing the laws, “we encourage hundreds of thousands of people year to likewise ignore our laws and illegally enter our country.”

Sessions echoed Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen’s calls for Congress to change the nation’s immigration laws.

He says the country is “dedicated to caring for children.”

PBS NewsHour’s Joshua Barajas contributed to this report.

READ MORE: How Trump’s family separation policy became what it is today