Not Nazis, just following orders - top US border official

Children are being kept in cages at centres in Texas.
Children are being kept in cages at centres in Texas. Photo credit: Reuters

The top US immigration officer has rejected comparisons to the Nazi regime, by saying his staff are just following orders from Congress.

If that sounds familiar, it's because it's the defence members of the Nazi Party used at the Nuremberg trials, which followed World War II.

Since April, the US has separated thousands of children from their parents under a 'zero-tolerance' immigration policy at the southern border. Hundreds of the children have been placed in foster care in other parts of the country, while others remain detained in camps near the border.

The mass detention has been compared to the Nazi regime's concentration camps in the lead-up to World War II and the United States' own treatment of its Japanese citizens after the attack on Pearl Harbour in 1942.

Asked for a response by Fox News host Tucker Carlson, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) acting director Thomas Homan said it was "an insult to the brave men and women of the Border Patrol and ICE to call law enforcement officers Nazis".

"They're simply enforcing laws enacted by Congress," he said.

"I wish there was this much outrage about separation of families. I wish I heard this much outrage when we met with angel mothers and fathers whose children were killed by illegal aliens - US citizen children have been killed and separated from their parents forever. I never heard this outrage."

His comments drew immediate outrage on social media, with most pointing out the irony of using a defence closely linked with the Nazis, to argue against comparisons with Nazis.

He called protests against the detention a "political sideshow", and blamed the parents for the kids' situation.

"Let's put the blame where it lies - not on the fine men and women of the Border Patrol and ICE. We're enforcing the law."

US Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who launched the zero-tolerance policy in April, said it was an "exaggeration" to compare ICE officials to Nazis because they'd be happy to let asylum seekers and migrants leave, whilst the Nazis exterminated their prisoners.

Nonetheless, on Thursday, Amnesty International NZ said the US was "quite far down the line" to becoming a fascist state.

US President Donald Trump has ordered an end to family separation, but there remains confusion over whether this will prevent children from being detained even longer than is presently allowed by law, albeit with their families.

First Lady Melania Trump visited one of the centres in Texas overnight, but made headlines for her choice of clothes - boarding the plane to Texas in a jacket bearing the slogan, 'I REALLY DON'T CARE, DO U?'.