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DHS secretary defends Trump administration's migrant policies

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

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen NielsenKirstjen Michele NielsenLeft-leaning group to track which companies hire former top Trump aides Rosenstein: Zero tolerance immigration policy 'never should have been proposed or implemented' House Republican condemns anti-Trump celebrities during impeachment hearing 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 SessionsHouse Judiciary to probe DOJ's seizure of data from lawmakers, journalists Senate Judiciary begins investigation into DOJ lawmaker subpoenas NSA leaker Reality Winner released from federal prison 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 KennedySupreme Court confounding its partisan critics Warren says she'll run for reelection to Senate Five centrist Democrats oppose Pelosi for Speaker in tight vote 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 CicillineHillicon Valley: House targets tech giants with antitrust bills | Oversight chair presses JBS over payment to hackers | Trump spokesman to join tech company | YouTube suspends GOP senator House unveils antitrust package to rein in tech giants On the Money: Tech giants face rising pressure from shareholder activists | House Democrats urge IRS to reverse Trump-era rule reducing donor disclosure | Sen. Warren, Jamie Dimon spar over overdraft fees at Senate hearing MORE (D-R.I.) tweeted. 

 

 

Walter ShaubWalter Michael ShaubStephen Hahn joining venture capital firm behind Moderna DOJ watchdog urged to investigate lawyers behind Barr memo redactions Ethics experts ask Senate to investigate Graham's probe of mail-in voting MORE, the ethics chief under former President Obama, also hit back at Nielsen, calling her a "liar." 

 

 

Republican Sens. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeOn The Trail: Arizona is microcosm of battle for the GOP Trump looms large over fractured Arizona GOP Why Republican politicians are sticking with Trump MORE (Ariz.) and Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsOvernight Energy: Schumer to trigger reconciliation process Wednesday | Bipartisan bill would ban 'forever chemicals' in cosmetics | Biden admin eyes step toward Trump-era proposal for uranium reserve Bipartisan lawmakers introduce bill to ban 'forever chemicals' in cosmetics as study finds them prevalent Cosmetic chemicals need a makeover 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 MerkleyJeff MerkleyOvernight Energy: Schumer to trigger reconciliation process Wednesday | Bipartisan bill would ban 'forever chemicals' in cosmetics | Biden admin eyes step toward Trump-era proposal for uranium reserve Progressives threaten to block bipartisan infrastructure proposal Youth climate activists march outside California homes of Pelosi and Feinstein 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 TrumpKushner lands book deal, slated for release in 2022 Biden moves to undo Trump trade legacy with EU deal Progressives rave over Harrison's start at DNC 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.