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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 Nielsen'Anonymous' whistleblower Miles Taylor changing locations, employing private security after death threats Biden picks first Latino to lead Homeland Security Judge says acting DHS secretary appointment unlawful, invalidates DACA suspension 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 SessionsTime to bring federal employees home for every holiday Alabama zeroes in on Richard Shelby's future Tuberville incorrectly says Gore was president-elect in 2000 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 KennedyConor Lamb defeats Trump-backed challenger for reelection in Pennsylvania Van Drew fends off challenge from Kennedy after party switch Markey wins reelection in Massachusetts 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 CicillineHillicon Valley: GOP chairman says defense bill leaves out Section 230 repeal | Senate panel advances FCC nominee | Krebs says threats to election officials 'undermining democracy' Schakowsky to introduce bill to limit reach of tech liability shield States plot next moves on redistricting MORE (D-R.I.) tweeted. 

 

 

Walter ShaubWalter Michael ShaubEthics experts ask Senate to investigate Graham's probe of mail-in voting Interior 'propaganda' video and tweets may violate ethics laws, experts say Louisiana House candidate fundraises off opponent's tweet about wife's 'premonition' dream MORE, the ethics chief under former President Obama, also hit back at Nielsen, calling her a "liar." 

 

 

Republican Sens. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeBiden eyeing Cindy McCain for UK ambassador position: report Profiles in cowardice: Trump's Senate enablers McSally concedes Arizona Senate race MORE (Ariz.) and Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsMark Kelly sworn in to Senate seat Biden brushes off criticism of budget nominee Scammers step up efforts to target older Americans during pandemic 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 MerkleyDemocrats introduce legislation to strike slavery exception in 13th Amendment Overnight Defense: Defense bill among Congress's year-end scramble | Iranian scientist's assassination adds hurdles to Biden's plan on nuclear deal | Navy scrapping USS Bonhomme Richard after fire Supreme Court declines to hear case challenging unlimited super PAC fundraising 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 TrumpFederal watchdog accuses VOA parent company of wrongdoing under Trump appointee Lawsuit alleges 200K Georgia voters were wrongly purged from registration list Ivanka Trump gives deposition in lawsuit alleging misuse of inauguration funds 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.