‘We will not apologize:’ Homeland Security chief Nielsen defends immigration policy


The government says it separated almost 2,000 children from adults at the US southern border over the course of six recent weeks.

"While we must work towards a solution that reduces the occurrence of illegal border crossings, it is unacceptable to separate young children from their parents", Republican Rep. David Valadao of Hanford said in a statement to McClatchy. "It is irresponsible and unproductive", Nielsen wrote, neglecting to mention data from her own department showing that almost 2,000 children have been separated from their families in just six weeks due to the Trump adminstration's so-called "zero tolerance" immigration policy. But the Trump administration is being accused of handling the cases in a way no other presidency has.

In an opinion piece in the Washington Post, former first lady Laura Bush, wife of the previous Republican president, George W. Bush, said she lives in a border state and appreciates the need to enforce and protect the USA borders. "It is immoral. And it breaks my heart", Bush wrote, adding the images were "eerily reminiscent of the Japanese American internment camps of World War II, now considered to have been one of the most shameful episodes in US history".

Numerous news reports have shown the torment the federal zero tolerance actions have inflicted upon families.

Democrats have refused to consent to the border wall or restrictions to legal immigration that Mr Trump has demanded, and instead hope to block family separations with standalone legislation. Officials also acknowledge that the number may be even higher.

The Trump administration fired back at criticism of its immigration policy on Sunday with tweets by both the president himself and his head of the Department of Homeland Security.

The backlash against the tactic grew into a protest march on Sunday, with hundreds of people heading to a tent city in Tornillo, Texas, where children have been detained near El Paso.

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Lawmakers, activists, and reporters who have persistently highlighted and denouncedthe Trump administration's family separation policy-which was officially unveiled byAttorney General Jeff Sessions in May-were quick to call out Nielsen's blatant lie on Sunday, pointing out that a quick look at her department's website is enough to expose the falsehood. "And until these loopholes are closed by Congress, it is not possible as a matter of law to detain and remove whole family units who arrive illegally in the United States", Nielsen said.

Religious leaders are speaking out against the policy, with Archbishop of Miami Thomas Wenski saying the practice effectively "weaponizes" children, on NPR's Weekend Edition.

"It's awful to see families ripped apart and I don't support that one bit", Graham told the Christian Broadcasting Network. "Period", Nielsen tweeted late Sunday.

Calling the United States a "compassionate country", she said Monday that the nation historically welcomed millions of refugees and told asylum-seekers to find a port of entry. Former Ohio governor John Kasich, a Republican who challenged Trump's nomination in 2016 and may do so again in 2020, said "we need to forcefully take a stand against this policy" in a fundraising solicitation.

The crisis has centered primarily around a Trump administration policy to detain undocumented child migrants in facilities separate from their parents.

Nielsen claimed this policy is in place not as a deterrent to keep families of immigrants away from the border, as other administration officials have said, but rather as a means of keeping the children safe. "I will tell you that nobody likes this policy". "But President Trump is leaning into that pretty hard". But the president has repeatedly blamed Democrats, citing an unspecified law that he says requires children to be taken from parents who cross the border illegally. "Don't wait until after the election because you are going to lose!"

President Donald Trump is scheduled to meet Monday afternoon with two Republican senators who have the hard task this week of balancing the president's requests for funding for more immigration enforcement and a border wall with the realities of needing Democratic support to pass spending bills.