Indian-American writer Suketu Mehta has accused conservative political commentator and columnist Ann Coulter of defending the separation of families at the United States border by misrepresenting an article he wrote for The New Yorker magazine in 2011.

Ann Coulter, appearing on Fox News on Sunday, disparaged underage asylum seekers caught up at the border as “child actors weeping and crying on all the other networks 24/7 right now”. She claimed that the article described how “these kids are being coached” and said the children are “given scripts to read by liberals”.

Mehta lashed out at Coulter after her comments. “If you had three functioning brain cells, you wouldn’t be mentioning my New Yorker article about asylum to support your racist positions,” he told her on Twitter. “It’s not about child actors, it’s about narratives demanded of adults by a broken asylum system.”

The article is about an asylum seeker from Central America, Celine, whose family’s house was ransacked and whose siblings were beaten by government soldiers because the family supported an Opposition leader. Subsequently, Celine was encouraged to exaggerate her story and claim that she was raped in order to find asylum.

“It’s a very nuanced, complicated piece – and ‘nuance’ and ‘Ann Coulter’ do not belong in the same sentence,” Mehta told Buzzfeed on Tuesday. He said he found the Trump administration’s policy and Coulter’s defence of it “despicable”.

In May, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a “zero tolerance” policy that allows authorities to slap criminal charges on undocumented immigrants. This has led to nearly 2,000 children being separated from their parents in just six weeks. Investigative news website ProPublica on Monday published an audio recording of immigrant children from Central America crying inconsolably for their parents at a detention centre on the US-Mexico border.