DHS secretary: Mary and Joseph would have been eligible for asylum

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen NielsenKirstjen Michele NielsenOvernight Energy: Mueller report reveals Russian efforts to sow division over coal jobs | NYC passes sweeping climate bill likened to 'Green New Deal' | EPA official says agency may ban asbestos | Energy Dept. denies Perry planning exit The Hill's 12:30 Report: Inside the Mueller report Energy Dept denies report that Rick Perry is planning to leave Trump admin MORE said Thursday that she believed that Mary and Joseph would have been eligible for asylum if they sought to enter the U.S. while fleeing King Herod with Jesus Christ.

Rep. Louie GohmertLouis (Louie) Buller GohmertHillicon Valley: Facebook, Google face tough questions on white nationalism | Nielsen's exit raisers cyber worries | McConnell calls net neutrality bill 'dead on arrival' | Facebook changes terms for EU data Republicans offer 'free market alternative' to paid family leave YouTube shuts down comments on House hearing on white nationalism over hateful remarks MORE (R-Texas) poised the question to Nielsen during a congressional hearing, after Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D-Ill.) earlier claimed that Jesus “would have perished” under the Trump administration’s immigration policies.

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“You mentioned that asylum is actually only found to be appropriate in about 10 percent of the people who claim asylum,” Gohmert said. “And for my colleague who left, if Mary and Joseph were trying to come into the United States under the situation that existed and King Herod was trying to kill everybody under two, would they be eligible for asylum in the United States?”

Nielsen replied that they would be.

“So he can scratch that from his concerns; they would get into the United States,” Gohmert replied, referring to Gutiérrez.

Gutiérrez minutes earlier had delivered a blistering criticism of Nielsen, largely focusing on immigration policies enforced by her agency.

“It is repugnant to me and astonishing to me that during Christmas … a time in which we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, a Jesus Christ who had to flee for his life with Mary and Joseph,” the Democrat said. “Thank God there wasn’t a wall that stopped him from seeking refuge in Egypt. Thank God that wall wasn’t there, and thank God there wasn’t an administration like this or he would too have perished.”

Nielsen fired back, saying she took "personal offense" on behalf of all Department of Homeland Security staffers over Gutiérrez's remarks.