DHS secretary defends Trump administration's migrant policies

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

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen NielsenKirstjen Michele NielsenPentagon authorizes B in counter-drug money for Trump's border wall Clinton calls for people to sign petition to help DACA recipient detained by ICE Hillicon Valley: Nunes sues Twitter for 0 million | Trump links tech giants to 'Radical Left Democrats' | Facebook settles suits over ad discrimination | Dems want answers over spread of New Zealand shooting video 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. 

 

ADVERTISEMENT

"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 SessionsPress: Should the media apologize to Donald Trump? After Mueller, Democrats need to avoid the Javert trap Mueller probe: A timeline from beginning to end 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 KennedyThis week: Congress set for next stage of Mueller probe fight Booker takes early lead in 2020 endorsements Overnight Defense: Top Marine warns border deployment could hurt readiness | McSally aims for sexual assault reforms in defense bill | House to vote on measure opposing transgender ban | New warning over F-35 sale to Turkey 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 CicillineDemocrats face dilemma after Mueller probe ends Barr faces political storm over Mueller report Dem rep on collusion: 'Impossible' to 'write it off completely' just going off Barr summary MORE (D-R.I.) tweeted. 

 

 

Walter ShaubWalter Michael ShaubEx-White House ethics chief compares Ivanka, Kushner security clearances to college admissions scandal Cohen's charges make getting Trump's taxes even more important Ethics watchdogs sound alarm over Trump tweet on Scotland golf course MORE, the ethics chief under former President Obama, also hit back at Nielsen, calling her a "liar." 

 

 

Republican Sens. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeTrump's attacks on McCain exacerbate tensions with Senate GOP Schumer to introduce bill naming Senate office building after McCain amid Trump uproar Trump keeps tight grip on GOP MORE (Ariz.) and Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Pass USMCA Coalition - Dems look for traction following Barr-Mueller findings Senate rejection of Green New Deal won't slow Americans' desire for climate action Senate GOP poised to go 'nuclear' on Trump picks 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 MerkleyOvernight Energy: Judge halts drilling on Wyoming public lands over climate change | Dems demand details on Interior's offshore drilling plans | Trump mocks wind power Dem senators demand offshore drilling info before Bernhardt confirmation hearing Business groups urge Congress to combat LGBTQ discrimination in workplace 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 TrumpPapadopoulos claims he was pressured to sign plea deal Tlaib asking colleagues to support impeachment investigation resolution Trump rips 'Mainstream Media': 'They truly are the Enemy of the People' 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.