Pelosi visits detention facility, says DHS secretary should resign
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Monday called on Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen to resign after visiting a federal facility that’s being used to detain migrant children separated from their parents under the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy.
Following the tour of a detention center in San Diego, Pelosi and other House Democratic lawmakers held a press conference to describe what they saw and to speak out against the policy, which has led to the separation of thousands of migrant children from their parents.
“This is not an immigration issue this is a humanitarian issue. It’s about the children,” Pelosi said.
When asked to respond to Nielsen’s comments earlier in the day that the minors are well cared for, Pelosi said, “I think she should resign.”
Lawmakers said the facility they toured houses young boys, and indicated staff there were doing the best they could to provide proper care. However, they warned that the children could face long-term health problems after being separated from their parents.
The White House is facing growing pressure to end its policy of separating family members, with both Democrats and Republicans calling it inhumane and inconsistent with American values.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the policy earlier this year, saying the Department of Justice would criminally prosecute all adults attempting to illegally cross the southern border into the United States. As a result, families who cross together would in some cases be separated, he said.
Trump has repeatedly blamed Democrats for the separation policy, despite his administration issuing the directive that led to the practice. On Monday, he doubled down on the policy, saying that the U.S. “will not be a migrant camp and it will not be a refugee holding facility.”
Pelosi and other lawmakers in attendance disputed the president’s claims that Democrats are to blame. They called on Trump to unilaterally reverse the family separation policy.
“Trump started this and Trump can end this,” Rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif.) said. “He should not be using these children as a bargaining chip for what he wants in an immigration bill: a big border wall.”
Despite opposition to the policy from both parties, it appears unlikely that a legislative fix is in the works.
Pelosi indicated that Democrats will not support a pair of Republican immigration bills that are expected to receive votes in the House this week. She said both measures will make the issue of family separation worse.
“These bills must be rejected,” Pelosi said on Monday.