"Well, it's a real exaggeration, of course", Sessions replied.
The attorney general rejected comparisons between the detention centers and concentration camps in Nazi Germany as irrational and thoughtless. "We want to allow asylum for people who qualify for it but people who want economic migration for their personal financial benefit and what they think is their family's benefit is not a basis for a claim of asylum".
He added, "We will have a system where those who need to apply for asylum can do so and those who want to come to this country will apply to enter lawfully".
Calls are mounting in the US for the administration to end the separation of families ahead of a visit from US President Donald Trump to Capitol Hill to discuss legislation.
Leading Republicans-finally recognizing that putting children in prison camps isn't a great look ahead of midterm elections-are pushing Trump and Sessions to reverse their cruel policy.
Sessions encouraged his critics to be "rational and thoughtful", about the situation, and reasserted that "we are taking care of these children".
Sunday evening, hours before her remarks in New Orleans, Nielsen posted a thread of tweets claiming preposterously that the Trump administration had no child separation policy for families detained at the US southern border.
On her Monday night show, Fox News host Laura Ingraham quizzed Sessions about his "zero tolerance" immigration policy, which has been compared by former CIA Director Michael Hayden and Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-California) to the tactics used by Nazi Germany.
Almost 2,000 children were separated from their families over a six-week period in April and May.
In the six weeks after Sessions announced the new policy on May 7, almost 2,000 minors were separated from their parents or adult guardians after they entered the country.
He agreed the family separations would serve as a deterrent to potential immigrants.
Sen. Jerry Moran's office did not immediately comment Monday.
Gidley isn't the only White House flack trying to shift blame.
To address the rise of families being separated at the border, the measure proposes keeping children in detention with their parents, undoing two-decade-old rules that limit the time minors can be held in custody.