Homeland Security chief says no apology for separating families

Marsha Scott
June 19, 2018

The top Republican on the House subcommittee responsible for funding the Department of Homeland Security demanded that the Trump administration end its forced separation of parents and children at the USA border, going further than many of his congressional colleagues in his demands.

Administration officials, including Nielsen, have said the administration's policy on immigration detentions is necessary to fully enforce the nation's laws.

Some, like MSNBC host Joe Scarborough, blasted the Trump administration for its conduct, but in her response on Monday, Nielsen suggested that not everyone who appeared as a family unit was, in fact, one.

Ms. Nielsen also said the government will "not apologize" for enforcing the laws Congress wrote, which allow for criminal charges to be filed against people who jump the border illegally - and who can then be separated from their children when they're sent to jail.

While it's mostly been Democrats reacting to Nielsen's statement, some Republicans, including former First Lady Laura Bush, have publicly opposed the Trump administration's policy. But no longer, she said, will parents get a free pass. But Monday's statement marks the first time the Democratic senator has called for the DHS secretary's resignation, her office confirmed to CNN.

Through the end of May, nearly 2,000 children were separated from adults who said they were their parents or guardians, the department said last week.

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In a series of tweets on Sunday, Nielsen defended the Trump administration's policies: "This misreporting by Members, press & advocacy groups must stop". Homeland Security has separated more than 2,000 children from their parents since April 19, placing them in shelters run by the Department of Health and Human Services. "We don't want what is happening with immigration in Europe to happen with us!" She said those seeking asylum "have no reason to break the law and illegally cross between ports of entry".

Is this the best way to handle families entering the USA illegally, seeking asylum?

"I appreciate the need to enforce and protect our worldwide boundaries, but this zero-tolerance policy is cruel", Bush wrote. Religious leaders have condemned family separation, and his own United Methodist denomination chided him for glossing over many other biblical teachings, including kindness to strangers.

Nielsen's in fine form here, though, hitting all the major points on the policy's behalf.

"This administration has a simple message: If you cross the border illegally, we will prosecute you", she said. Before the briefing, some reporters in attendance had been listening to audio obtained by ProPublica of 10 Central American child migrants reacting with grief and confusion after being separated from their parents at the border.

"As (GOP Rep. Steve Scalise) said, it is an issue that every one of the last four administration has faced".

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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