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Nielsen addresses controversy over migrant family separation
DHS Secretary says the crisis is the result of gaps in Federal immigration laws.
Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said Monday that the growing crisis at the US-Mexico border “is not new,” as the trump-administration dug in among a national outcry about the separation of the children of immigrants, from their parents.
“This whole crisis shows only too clearly, is not a new one,” Nielsen told reporters at the top of the White house briefing. “It’s already happened, and extended over many decades. But currently, it is the exclusive product of the gaps in our Federal immigration laws to prevent illegal immigrants, minors, and relatives of the detained and removed to their own countries.”
“In other words,” Nielsen added, “these loopholes create a functionally open border. Understand the detention, and the removal of the border security is not.”
Nielsen is called to act for the Congress on legislation to curb the separation of immigrant children from parents in detention. Such a provision is already added, a compromise the GOP immigration measure between the party, the conservatives and the moderates, and similar language was expected to be an alternative bill favored by conservative members. The house is expected to vote on both bills this week.
The current holding areas used to house separated children have drawn wide attention after journalists access to a Website on Sunday.
In McAllen, Texas, detention center, the Associated Press reported that hundreds of immigrant children were waiting in a row of cages, created of metal fences. A cage had 20 children inside. Water bottles, bags of chips and large foil sheets on the ceiling or scattered around the plant.
Nielsen, state attorney General Jeff Sessions and other members of the administration have insisted that the White house is simply the enforcement of immigration laws already on the books.
“The voices that criticize the loudest, that the enforcement of the current laws are those whose policies created, to the perpetrators of the crisis and its policy,” Nielsen said.
The policy is the outrage from the conservatives and Republicans as well as Democrats and liberals has drawn. The Rev. Franklin Graham, a longtime trump ally, called the policy “shameful.” Several religious groups have also pushed the practice and the former first lady, Laura Bush, called it “cruel” and “immoral” in a Washington Post opinion piece.
On Capitol Hill, of Michigan, Republican Rep. Fred Upton for an immediate end to this “ugly and inhuman practice called for,” adding, “It is never acceptable to use children as a bargaining chip in the political process.” And Kansas GOP sen. Pat Roberts said he was “against the separation of the parents as a deterrent against illegal immigration.”
This is a developing story; check back for more updates. The Associated Press contributed to this report.