Homeland Security chief slams 'irresponsible' reports of separating migrant families

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If you want to know where the separation policy came from and why Nielsen is suddenly the face of it, that's why. Trump has derided that practice as "catch and release", arguing that numerous immigrants never appear for court proceedings.

Outrage at the administration's new "zero tolerance" crackdown at the border reached a new peak over the weekend, as protesters rallied outside a tent camp for migrant children in El Paso, Texas, and several prominent Republicans joined Democrats in denouncing the policy as callous and cruel. Many have said the idea of separating children from their parents defies American and human values, as well as not needed when there are pilot programs that have shown that families with the right release conditions do show up for their court proceedings in the vast majority of cases. Republican Senator Susan Collins of ME said Sunday the number "may well be higher".

While it's mostly been Democrats reacting to Nielsen's statement, some Republicans, including former First Lady Laura Bush, have publicly opposed the Trump administration's policy.

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"The Democrats are forcing the break up of families at the Border with their disgusting and cruel legislative agenda", Mr Trump said on Twitter.

Nielsen has been under pressure in recent months from President Trump, who has singled her out for blame as arrests along the Mexico border have climbed to their highest point since Trump took office.

"While he thinks it's something that works well for that 35 per cent that still adore him, it doesn't work well for their party in November", he said in an interview.

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"I'm looking at both of them", Trump told Fox News. "It is immoral. And it breaks my heart". Dianne Feinstein proposed a bill that would end this barbaric "deterrent" strategy. Kirstjen Nielsen, the current homeland security secretary, has clashed privately with Mr. Trump over the practice, sometimes inviting furious lectures from the president that have pushed her to the brink of resignation... The legislation wouldn't explicitly forbid the incarceration of children alongside their parents.

Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard C. Shelby of Alabama and Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee Chairwoman Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia are scheduled to meet with President Donald Trump on Monday at the White House, a day before Capito's panel marks up its draft fiscal 2019 spending bill.

The DHS official also rejected as "not true" various reports of wrongdoing, including the turning away of some asylum-seekers. Mr Sessions has also ordered that immigrants can no longer be granted asylum based on threats of gang or domestic violence, a major cause of migration from Central America.

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Nielsen noted how the administration saw a 315 percent increase in immigrants "fraudulently using children to pose as family units to gain entry into this country" from October 2017 to this past February.

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