DHS secretary defends Trump administration's migrant policies

DHS secretary defends Trump administration's migrant policies
© Greg Nash

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen NielsenKirstjen Michele NielsenCybersecurity: Cause for optimism, need for continued vigilance The Hill's Morning Report — Dems split on key issues but united against Trump Hillicon Valley: Trump revokes Brennan's security clearance | Twitter cracks down on InfoWars | AT&T hit with crypto lawsuit | DHS hosts election security exercise MORE defended the Trump administration's migrant policies amid growing public backlash in a series of tweets on Sunday, saying the administration does not have a policy of separating families at the border. 

"This misreporting by Members, press & advocacy groups must stop. It is irresponsible and unproductive. As I have said many times before, if you are seeking asylum for your family, there is no reason to break the law and illegally cross between ports of entry," Nielsen said. 

 

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"You are not breaking the law by seeking asylum at a port of entry," she 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."

 

 

 

"DHS takes very seriously its duty to protect minors in our temporary custody from gangs, traffickers, criminals and abuse," she added. 

 

 

Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsOvernight Health Care: Supreme Court nomination reignites abortion fight in states | Trump urges Sessions to sue opioid makers | FDA approves first generic version of EpiPen Connect Beltway to America to get federal criminal justice reform done Dems urge tech companies to remove 3D-gun blueprints MORE announced earlier this year that the Department of Justice would criminally prosecute all adults attempting to illegally cross the southern border into the U.S. He acknowledged the policy, in some cases, would result in families who crossed together being separated.

Nielsen's tweets come as the White House faces bipartisan criticism over its practice of separating families who cross the border into the U.S. illegally. 

Critics, including lawmakers, have been quick to pounce on Nielsen's tweets. 

"If this isn’t the White House policy, please tell the officials who I spoke with in Tornillo today who believe it is. Either own it or change it. Scratch that - just change it," Rep. Joe KennedyJoseph (Joe) Patrick KennedySenate Intel chief slams ex-CIA director for timing of claims about Trump-Russia ties Top Dem lawmaker pushing committee for closed-door debrief with Trump’s interpreter Dem rep knocks Trump’s credibility: ‘Would' versus 'wouldn't' is a ‘pretty big deal’ MORE III (D-Mass.) said. 

 

 

"@secnielsen, this isn’t true. I just met with officials at Border Patrol Processing Center in McAllen, Texas, who told me 1,147 children have been separated from parents at their facility.," Rep. David CicillineDavid Nicola CicillineSenate Dems introduce bill to block release of 3D printed gun blueprints States sue Trump administration to block 3D printed guns House GOP refuses to boost funding for election security MORE (D-R.I.) tweeted. 

 

 

Walter ShaubWalter Michael ShaubWH lawyer in charge of policing Trump officials' ethics to leave: report Ex-White House ethics chief: Sarah Sanders tweet violates ethics laws Ex-ethics chief: Melania Trump's visit to migrant shelter a 'flim flam con job' MORE, the ethics chief under former President Obama, also hit back at Nielsen, calling her a "liar." 

 

 

Republican Sens. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeVoters will punish Congress for ignoring duty on war and peace GOP Senate candidate truncates Trump tweet in campaign mailer GOP senator reviving effort to rein in Trump on tariffs MORE (Ariz.) and Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsOvernight Defense: Pompeo creates 'action group' for Iran policy | Trump escalates intel feud | Report pegs military parade cost at M Hillicon Valley: Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey sits down with The Hill | Drama over naming DHS cyber office | Fallout over revoking Brennan's security clearance | Google workers protest censored search engine for China Trump escalates feud with intelligence officials MORE (Maine) requested clarity on the policy from the Departments of Homeland Security and Health and Human Services in a letter on Sunday. 

Democrats have also hit back against the family separations. 

A group of Democratic lawmakers, led by Sen. Jeff MerkleyJeffrey (Jeff) Alan MerkleyBipartisanship alive and well, protecting critical infrastructure Overnight Defense: Senate sends 7B annual defense bill to Trump's desk | US sanctions Turkish officials over detained pastor | Korean War remains headed to Hawaii | Senators reassure allies on NATO support Dem strategist: It's 'far-left thinking' to call for Nielsen's resignation MORE (Ore.), visited the U.S.-Mexico border on Sunday to see the Customs and Border Protection processing centers, located in the Rio Grande Valley. 

Sessions invoked the Bible to defend the policy on Thursday, urging law and order at the border. 

“I would cite you to the Apostle Paul and his clear and wise command in Romans 13, to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained them for the purpose of order,” Sessions said during a speech in Fort Wayne, Ind. “Orderly and lawful processes are good in themselves and protect the weak and lawful.”

President TrumpDonald John TrumpNFL players stand in tunnel during anthem, extending protests 12 former top intel officials blast Trump's move to revoke Brennan's security clearance NYT: Omarosa believed to have as many as 200 tapes MORE aimed to deflect criticism on Friday, laying blame on Democrats for the policy. 

"The Democrats are forcing the breakup of families at the Border with their horrible and cruel legislative agenda. Any Immigration Bill MUST HAVE full funding for the Wall, end Catch & Release, Visa Lottery and Chain, and go to Merit Based Immigration. Go for it! WIN!" the president tweeted.