DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen Defends Separation Of Families At The Border

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President Donald Trump's administration has repeatedly denied that its policy is to separate children from their parents when they cross the USA border illegally, but its own internal documents contradict that.

Monday, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) called on Homeland Security Secretary Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen to resign over the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" policy that rips families apart at the U.S. -Mexico border. As a result, the Homeland Security Department has ratcheted up criminal prosecutions of adult border crossers, removing any children traveling with them and detaining them separately.

But the DHS does separate children from families at the border, and they just put out a press release about it on June 15, explaining its new "zero tolerance" policy for border crossers.

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.

Under the Obama administration, "for the most part, those parents were not prosecuted" if they entered illegally with children, said Sarah Pierce, a policy analyst with the Migration Policy Institute, a nonpartisan think tank that analyzes immigration and refugee policies.

And she said that if DHS didn't do its job and enforce the law, it would mark "the beginning of the unraveling of the democracy when the body who makes the laws instead of changing them tells the enforcement body not to enforce the law". That is correct. But under USA protocol, if parents are jailed, their children are separated from them because the children aren't charged with a crime.

So I want to be clear on a couple of other things. This tweet comes in the midst of nationwide backlash against the separation of immigrant families and the virtual imprisonment of the children in special detention centers.

After Trump initially seemed to say he was not keen on a Republican compromise bill that includes a fix to the separation issue as well as DACA protections for young migrants who arrived illegally as children, the White House walked back his remarks.

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"You saw the president (say) on camera that he wants this to end", she added.

Democrats have been leading the charge.

In a series of tweets on Sunday, Nielsen defended the Trump administration's policies: "This misreporting by Members, press & advocacy groups must stop". Children can't go to jail with their parents, so they are separated.

The lawmakers in Elizabeth waited about 90 minutes to gain access to the detention facility, which is operated for the United States government by a private contractor.

So some families were released in the US before their immigration cases were heard.

"We have some of the highest detention standards in the world for children", he said. "Research also suggests that the longer that parents and children are separated, the greater the reported symptoms of anxiety and depression are for children".

Nielsen noted how the administration saw a 315 percent increase in immigrants "fraudulently using children to pose as family units to gain entry into this country" from October 2017 to this past February.

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