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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 NielsenTucker Carlson says he 'can't really' dine out anymore because people keep yelling at him Top Judiciary Dems call for unredacted 'zero tolerance' memo The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by PhRMA — Dem path to a Senate majority narrows 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 SessionsRosenstein to appear for House interview next week Emmet Flood steps in as White House counsel following McGahn departure McGahn departs as White House counsel 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 KennedyHouse lawmakers introduce bill to end US support in Yemen civil war Democrats opposed to Pelosi lack challenger to topple her Ex-GOP donor urges support for Dems in midterms: 'Democracy is at stake' 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 CicillineBustos announces bid to become fourth-ranking Dem next year Democrat launches bid for assistant leader Hillicon Valley: Manafort to cooperate with Mueller probe | North Korea blasts US over cyber complaint | Lawmakers grill Google over China censorship | Bezos to reveal HQ2 location by year's end MORE (D-R.I.) tweeted. 

 

 

Walter ShaubWalter Michael ShaubSolicitor general could take over Mueller probe if Rosenstein exits News station criticized for publishing 'smear' about man killed in his apartment by off-duty officer Former ethics chief, a vocal Trump critic, joins watchdog group MORE, the ethics chief under former President Obama, also hit back at Nielsen, calling her a "liar." 

 

 

Republican Sens. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeMnuchin pulls out of Saudi conference The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs — Health care a top policy message in fall campaigns On The Money: Treasury official charged with leaking info on ex-Trump advisers | Trump to seek 5 percent budget cut from Cabinet members | Mnuchin to decide by Thursday on attending Saudi conference MORE (Ariz.) and Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsThe Hill's Morning Report — Presented by the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs — Health care a top policy message in fall campaigns Susan Collins and the mob mentality Graham: I hope Dems 'get their ass kicked' for conduct around Kavanaugh 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 MerkleySenate Dems ask Trump to disclose financial ties to Saudi Arabia Poll: Dem incumbent holds 5-point lead in Oregon governor's race Trump, Feinstein feud intensifies over appeals court nominees 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 TrumpThe Guardian slams Trump over comments about assault on reporter Five takeaways from the first North Dakota Senate debate Watchdog org: Tillerson used million in taxpayer funds to fly throughout US 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.