Nielsen says 'no manufactured crisis' at border amid emergency declaration debate

Nielsen says 'no manufactured crisis' at border amid emergency declaration debate
© Stefani Reynolds

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen NielsenKirstjen Michele NielsenDOJ to Supreme Court: Trump decision to end DACA was lawful Top immigration aide experienced 'jolt of electricity to my soul' when Trump announced campaign Trump casts uncertainty over top intelligence role MORE on Monday doubled down on her defense of President TrumpDonald John Trump Former US ambassador: 'Denmark is not a big fan of Donald Trump and his politics' Senate Democrats push for arms control language in defense policy bill Detroit county sheriff endorses Booker for president MORE’s declaration of a national emergency, saying there "is no manufactured crisis at our southern border."

During a speech at George Washington University, she pointed to what she called further evidence that there is a national emergency at the U.S.-Mexico border. She also said Congress is not taking enough action on immigration.

Nielsen said the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is on track to apprehend nearly 100,000 migrants at the border this month, after stopping more than 75,000 migrants in February.

“Our laws aren’t keeping up with the migrant flows, and until they are fixed, the situation will only get worse and more heartbreaking,” she said.

Her comments come as the Trump administration gears up for a legal battle over the president's national emergency declaration.

Trump on Friday vetoed a measure that would stop his emergency declaration to secure funding for the construction of a wall on the southern border.

Twelve GOP senators, as well as 13 House Republicans, joined Democrats in rebuking Trump by supporting the measure. Some Senate Republicans are now looking to limit the president's emergency powers.

The House is expected to vote next week to overturn Trump's veto. Lawmakers are not expected to garner the two-thirds support needed to send the measure to the Senate.

But the debate over Trump's declaration will play out in court. Several advocacy groups and states sued the president after he declared the emergency.

In addition to Nielsen, Attorney General William Barr has also sought to defend Trump's national emergency order.

Barr said at the ceremony for Trump's veto that the declaration is “clearly authorized under the law and consistent with past precedent." He added that the situation at the border falls under the National Emergencies Act of 1976, which lays out the president's authority for declaring emergencies.

Nielsen also used her remarks on Monday to call on Congress to take further action on immigration.

"We need Congress to stop playing politics and do what’s right," she said. "We need Congress to change the law to allow us to keep families together throughout the immigration process, to ensure the safe and prompt return of unaccompanied children to their home countries, and to reverse the court ruling that directs dangerous criminals to be released into our communities."