Border Crisis Is 'Real,' Homeland Security Secretary Insists - NBC 10 Philadelphia
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Border Crisis Is 'Real,' Homeland Security Secretary Insists

Sec. Kirstjen Nielsen was grilled on whether she was aware of the psychological effects of separating children from their parents

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    Border Crisis Is 'Real,' Homeland Security Secretary Insists
    Susan Walsh/AP
    Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen is sworn in to testify on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, March 6, 2019, before the House Homeland Security Committee.

    Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen insisted Wednesday the crisis at the southern border is not manufactured, as she faced questions from Democrats for the first time since they took control of the House.

    "We face a crisis -- a real, serious, and sustained crisis at our borders," she said at a House Homeland Security Committee hearing. "Make no mistake: this chain of human misery is getting worse."

    Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson said he wanted to use the hearing in part to give Nielsen the opportunity to start a "serious discussion," rather than echoing President Donald Trump's claims of a security crisis at the border, and to say what she knew about the family separations last year. He said real oversight over the border was long overdue.

    "No amount of verbal gymnastics will change that she knew the Trump administration was implementing a policy to separate families at the border," Thompson said. "To make matters worse, the administration bungled implementation of its cruel plan, losing track of children and even deporting parents to Central America without their children."

    DHS Secretary Defends Practice of Separating Families at Border

    [NATL] DHS Secretary Defends Practice of Separating Families at Border

    Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen defended the practice of separating families at the U.S.-Mexico border, saying that her department is merely following laws. Speaking at a White House briefing Monday, Nielsen said the issue has been growing for years, the product of loopholes that have created an open border.

    (Published Monday, June 18, 2018)

    Nielsen was grilled on whether she was aware of the psychological effects of separating children from their parents, and when she knew about the "zero tolerance" policy that led to the separation of more than 2,700 children from parents last year. And she was asked about conversations with Trump as he declared a national emergency at the border to try to gain funding for his proposed wall between the U.S. and Mexico.

    "There is an emergency," Nielsen said. "I have seen the vulnerable populations. This is a true humanitarian crisis that the system is enabling. We have to change the laws."

    Tens of thousands of families are crossing the border illegally every month, straining resources. Last month, there were more than 76,000 migrants apprehended — it was more than double the same period last year. And she said the forecast is that the problem will grow worse as weather gets better; traditionally the early spring months see higher illegal crossings.

    The new figures reflect the difficulties Trump has faced as he tries to cut down on illegal immigration, his signature issue. But it could also help him make the case that there truly is a national emergency at the border — albeit one built around humanitarian crises and not necessarily border security.

    The Senate is expected to vote next week and join the House in rejecting his national emergency declaration aimed at building border walls, but Trump would almost certainly veto the measure and the issue is likely to be settled in the courts.

    The hearing is one of three at the Capitol on border issues Wednesday. Since Democrats took control of the House, they have prioritized investigating last year's family separations and have subpoenaed documents related to the policy.

    Migrant Children Held at Fla. Detention Center 'Traumatized' By Separation

    [NATL-MI] Impact on Children Living in Detention Centers

    A lawyer for young migrant children at a Florida detention center says her clients, one as young as 3 years old, are traumatized by the forcible separation from family members. Attorneys say attempts to track down their parents have been unsuccessful. WTVJ's Marissa Bagg reports.

    (Published Thursday, June 21, 2018)