Trump defends Nielsen amid criticism over family separations

Trump defends Nielsen amid criticism over family separations
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President TrumpDonald John TrumpGillibrand urges opposition to Kavanaugh: Fight for abortion rights 'is now or never' Trump claims tariffs on foreign nations will rescue US steel industry: report Bannon announces pro-Trump movie, operation team ahead of midterms: report MORE issued praise for Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Kirstjen NielsenKirstjen Michele NielsenHillicon Valley: Trump revokes Brennan's security clearance | Twitter cracks down on InfoWars | AT&T hit with crypto lawsuit | DHS hosts election security exercise Overnight Health Care: Arkansas Medicaid work rules could cost thousands coverage | Record number of overdose deaths in 2017 | Dems demand immediate reunification of separated children Senate Dems demand immediate reunification of remaining separated children MORE on Tuesday amid a storm of criticism surrounding the administration's "zero tolerance" policy on illegal immigration.

In a tweet, the president touted Nielsen's performance at Monday's White House press briefing, during which Nielsen fielded questions from reporters over whether DHS's treatment of detained children seeking asylum constitutes child abuse.

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Trump added in the message that he wants to see "heart" in any immigration plan that comes across his desk. The administration has blamed congressional inaction, particularly among Democrats, for the escalating number of separated families and thousands of detained children.

"Homeland Security @SecNielsen did a fabulous job yesterday at the press conference explaining security at the border and for our country, while at the same time recommending changes to obsolete & nasty laws, which force family separation. We want “heart” and security in America!" Trump tweeted.

Nielsen forcefully defended the administration's zero tolerance policy during Monday's briefing, arguing that the administration can't be expected to selectively apply the law while Congress debates a permanent fix for the millions of undocumented immigrants already in the U.S. and more on the way.

"This entire crisis, just to be clear, is not new," Nielsen told reporters. “Currently, it is the exclusive product of loopholes in our federal immigration laws that prevent illegal immigrant minors and family members from being detained and removed to their home countries."

“Congress and the courts created this system, and Congress alone can fix it,” she added.

More than 2,000 minors have been separated from their family members and detained in just six weeks between April and May, according to DHS's own statistics.