North Carolina-based evangelist Franklin Graham on Wednesday called separating children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border "disgraceful" and "terrible," but he steered clear of blaming the practice on a new Trump administration policy.
In an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network, Graham blamed what's happening at the border on lawmakers "over generations."
When a network interviewer asked Graham for his thoughts on the new policy, which she said "appears to be separating" children and their parents at the border, Graham replied:
"I think it's disgraceful, it's terrible, to see families ripped apart, and I don't support that one bit. And I blame the politicians for the last 20, 30 years that have allowed this to escalate to the point where it is today.
Some national media outlets took Graham's comments to mean he was criticizing the administration, but Graham never mentioned the Trump administration in the interview.
"Franklin Graham criticizes Trump policy of separating families at border," read the headline on a story in "The Hill." The news publication reports on politics in Washington, D.C.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions has defended the new policy. Referring to those he said are crossing the border illegally, Sessions said in an interview with conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt that "if people don’t want to be separated from their children, they should not bring them with them."
Graham heads the Charlotte-based Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. He has long defended Trump and was among six clergy members who prayed and offered readings at Trump’s inauguration.
Graham did not endorse Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign. But he did back his temporary banning of Muslims from entering the United States. At a Trump “Thank You” rally in Mobile, Alabama, for then-president-elect Trump, Graham said he believed God intervened in the election to give him the win.