DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen on Immigrant Children

Posted June 19, 2018

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said she wouldn't apologize for the Trump administration policy of separating immigrant children from parents who cross the us border illegally, defying a torrent of criticism as the president continued to falsely blame Democrats for the controversy.

Nielsen joins the growing chorus of administration officials who have been put on the defensive over the policy amid political pressure to abandon it altogether and find a permanent fix to the country's immigration problems.

The White House delayed the briefing three times to allow for Nielsen, who attended the National Sheriffs' Association meeting in New Orleans this morning, to answer questions.

Nielsen continued: "For those seeking asylum at ports of entry, we have continued the policy from previous Administrations and will only separate if the child is in danger, there is no custodial relationship between "family" members, or if the adult has broken a law".

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Over the weekend the President repeated the lie that a law passed by Democrats forces his administration to separate parents from their children at the border.

She added, "This is a perilous journey for many of these children, and if people really cared about them we would figure out a way to get the funding to expand the centers and to close the loopholes".

But he also repeated the falsehood that Democrats, now in the minority in Congress, are responsible for a law that mandates family separations.

She said the "vast majority" of children being held in the detention facilities were sent to the USA alone by their parents. But the President himself has repeatedly blamed Democrats, citing an unspecified law that he says requires children to be taken from parents who cross the border illegally. Last month, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said, "If you don't want your child to be separated, then don't bring them across the border illegally. If you smuggle aliens. we will prosecute you".

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Immigration advocates and Democrats say the administration has made it exceedingly hard to claim asylum at official ports of entry.

"I appreciate the need to enforce and protect our worldwide boundaries, but this zero-tolerance policy is cruel", Bush wrote. "I think what you saw in Tornillo was the manifestation of a awful policy of separating kids from their families", said Hurd, whose district includes a large swath along the U.S. -Mexico border.

After a tour of the border facilities, Merkley and Van Hollen described in an interview with CNN "large pens of chainlink fences" holding about 1,500 migrant children and parents separated from their children after fleeing violence in Central America.

Nielsen echoed these points during her prepared remarks. "It's a simple choice", she said.

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She denied accounts that the policy amounted to "child abuse" or was comparable to the internment of Japanese Americans during World War Two.