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What we're watching: The Sunday show debate over family separation

Screenshot via ABC News

The controversial Trump administration immigration policy that separates children from their parents when they cross the border took center stage in this week's Sunday show conversations.

Why it matters: The policy has quickly garnered international attention with the UN calling it a "serious violation" of the immigrants' rights. Its defenders have said that the Trump administration is simply enforcing the law while its critics have compared it to the inhumane practices of authoritarian regimes.

Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon defended the policy on ABC's "This Week." When pressed by ABC's Jonathan Karl about the ethics of separating children from mothers, Bannon said, 'The morality is the law. ... [The parents are] criminals when they come across."

  • "It's zero tolerance. I don't think you have to justify it. ... He went to a zero tolerance  policy. Zero tolerance. It's a crime to come across illegally. And children get separated. I hate to say it. It's the law. He's enforcing the law."
  • In response to a tweet from the Pope that seemed to reference the policy, Bannon said, "The pope, more than anybody else, has driven the migrant crisis in Europe."

Rep. Beto O'Rourke, the Texas Democrat challenging Sen. Ted Cruz, said on CNN's "State of the Union," "We will be judged for what we do or what we fail to do now. This is not just on the Trump administration. This is on all of us."

  • He called the policy "inhumane," adding, "I'd like to say it's un-American, but it's happening right now in America."

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway also offered a defense of the Department of Homeland Security's current practices, calling immigration a "vexing problem" while speaking to Chuck Todd on NBC's "Meet the Press."

  • "Let me just tell you that nobody likes seeing babies ripped from their mother's arms, from their mother's wombs, frankly, but we have to make sure that DHS's laws are understood through the sound byte culture we live in."

Rep. Ben Ray Luján, a Democrat from New Mexico and the chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, told Karl, "I think this policy is disgusting, and there's no reason that children should be treated this way."

  • "This is horrific, this is ugly ... I think this is going to be devastating for House Republicans that made promises to their constituents."

Go deeper: How Trump can separate migrant families.

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