Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen addressed a room of angry mainstream media reporters at a White House press briefing over accusations that the Trump administration does not care about children because it’s separating illegal alien families after they cross the border.
After presenting startling statistics about how much illegal border crossers and asylum seekers have increased, Nielsen gave the reporters a slew of facts about what actually happens at the border when these families come across. Her words facts flew in the face of the narrative that media had been pushing throughout the day.
— “This administration did not create a policy of separating families at the border. We have a statutory responsibility that we take seriously to protect alien children from human smuggling, trafficking, and other criminal actions while enforcing our immigration laws.”
— “We will separate those who claim to be a parent and child if we cannot determine a familial or custodial relationship exists, for example, if there’s documentation to confirm the claimed relationship between an adult and a child. We do so if the parent is a national security risk or a public safety risk, including when there are criminal charges at issue.”
— “We also separate a parent and child if the adult is suspected of human trafficking.”
— “ In the last five months, we have a 314 percent increase in adults and children arriving at the border fraudulently claiming to be a family unit.”
— “Separation can occur when the parent is charged with human smuggling. Under those circumstances, we would detain the parent in an appropriate, secure detention facility, separate from the child.”
— “What has changed is that we no longer exempt entire classes of people who break the law. Everyone is subject to prosecution.”
Nielsen emphasized that everything her department is doing in prosecuting adults and placing children under the care of the Department of Health and Human Services is “in accordance with the TVPRA, a law that was passed by Congress and following a court order, neither which are actions the Trump administration has taken.”
She added that the children are well taken care of, have communication with their parents, and are often put in the custody of U.S. relatives. Any reports of mistreatment are taken seriously and dealt with.
“Finally, DHS is not separating families legitimately seeking asylum at ports of entry,” the DHS secretary concluded, later telling a reporter that the reason asylum seekers have had to wait to be processed is that the ports of entry are slammed with seekers right now.