DHS secretary: Children are being taken care of, don't believe the press

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Kirstjen NielsenKirstjen Michele NielsenTop Senate Dem: Trump administration's lack of focus on election security an 'embarrassment' DHS secretary: No sign Russia targeting midterm elections at 2016 level Mexico's president presses Pompeo on reuniting migrant families MORE told a gathering of sheriffs on Monday to ignore press reports of mistreatment of migrant minors separated from their families at the southwest border.

"It is important to note that these minors are very well taken care of — don’t believe the press," Nielsen said to the National Sheriff's Association while addressing reports of substandard treatment of minors.

"They are very well taken care of — you know this, as many of you have detention facilities of your own," she added.

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The Trump administration is pushing to defend its zero-tolerance policy for illegal border crossings, which has already led to the separation of at least 2,000 children from their parents.

"We operate according to some of the highest standards in the country. We provide food, medical, education and all the needs of the child — but let's be honest, there are some who would like us to look the other way dealing with families at the border and not enforce the law," said Nielsen.

Outcry over the separations grew over the weekend as members of Congress visited detention centers around the country.

Nielsen took to Twitter to defend the policy late Sunday, saying members of Congress, the press and advocacy groups are "misreporting" the causes of family separations.

"This misreporting by Members, press & advocacy groups must stop. It is irresponsible and unproductive," she said.

Under the zero-tolerance policy, anyone who crosses the border illegally faces prosecution.

Since children cannot be detained for prosecution with their parents, authorities separate families traveling together whose members are accused of illegal entry.

Nielsen also told the sheriffs in New Orleans on Monday that Congress should change immigration law rather than ask for selective enforcement.

"Surely it is the beginning of the unraveling of democracy when the body who makes the laws, rather than changing them, asks the body who enforces the laws not to enforce the laws. That cannot be the answer," said Nielsen.